Senza titolo-1_0003_59_Jean-Veber_Streghe-moderne_litografia-a-colori_Collezione-Invernizzi

Witches' Engravings

The exhibition showcases about 300 prints, sculptures, and paintings dedicated to the world of Witches and the occult, some signed by the greatest engravers of the nineteenth century, such as Goya and Delacroix, others by excellent anonymous illustrators forgotten. Around the core of engravings from the famous occult collector, Guglielmo Invernizzi, depicting scenes of curses, torture, obscene Sabbaths, brutal episodes of witchcraft, but also bright scenes of healers and good witches, the works of three extraordinary collectors – Emanuele Bardazzi, Edoardo Fontana, and Luca Locati Luciani – who have made Macabre Symbolism their research vein, are added.

1 Donna anonima di etnica Ndbele_Bambola Ndebele_XX secolo_tessuto, stoffa, spago, vetro, plastica_The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic

Magic Tools

Original and never-before-seen objects in Italy related to the world of witchcraft. Ancient cauldrons, wands, fetishes, amulets, and talismans lent by the remote Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in Boscastle, Cornwall, but also treatises dedicated to witchcraft such as the Malleus Maleficarum, the most famous manual on witch hunting, in the precious sixteenth-century edition. The Museum of Civilizations in Rome, on the other hand, has opened its incredible vault where an incredible collection of amulets is kept, gathering arcane objects from various regions of Italy. Among the most important, there is the famous handwritten note found, at her death, in the scapular of the witch Conti, in Tuscany, dating back to the end of the nineteenth century.

Progetto senza titolo

Gentile Budrioli and other witches

Of particular local interest is a room dedicated to Gentile Budrioli, “enormous witch of Bologna,” whose story is narrated in the exhibition through images and videos. Born in the second half of the 1400s in Bologna, Gentile married a wealthy notary and had seven children, but still managed to cultivate her interest in science, astrology, and the healing properties of herbs. Over time, she acquired such medical expertise that she was called upon by Ginevra Sforza to treat her daughter. The success of the treatment allowed Gentile to climb the ranks of the city, inevitably attracting envy and jealousy. So much so that when she succeeded again in curing a son of Ginevra, she was accused of causing the illness herself and arrested for witchcraft, eventually being burned at the stake after endless torture.


Enrica Mannari's illustrations and Anna Paolini's Artwork

In the room that concludes the exhibition, the world of witches will be staged by Enrica Mannari, a Tuscan artist, creative, and author of numerous books on transformation and change. The works will represent seven illustrated amulets, with seven promises that every woman can make to herself with the proactive attitude of cultivating “the witch within herself.”

In the conference room of the Stregheri exhibition, illustrator Anna Paolini brought the INDOMITE project to Bologna.

Why was an exhibition on witches needed?

The exhibition does justice to the fullest sense of the word “Witch”, declaring that in a world that seemingly has abandoned all sense of the sacred and many of its ancient ties to nature, there still exists, today as in the past, a society of women dedicated to the occult and who use magic to solve everyday problems. Women become witches to assert their personality, to escape the blows of a brutish husband, out of dissatisfaction with themselves, out of erotic impulses, out of hatred towards their enemies, or because they are attracted by the moon or the power of plants. But being believed to be a witch hasn’t always been an uncomfortable name to bear. In fact, being believed capable of unleashing an arcane, unknown, inexplicable, and terrible power has sometimes been an effective and very modern branding strategy to survive, to be feared and respected for the use and consumption of women who would otherwise have been overwhelmed and subjugated by the rampant patriarchy of the ancient world.

Have witches always been among us?

The stories of wise and sage women, with infinite knowledge of nature and powers capable of opening windows into the future, have their roots in our distant past, yet we have always tried to remove these figures from rational thought and consider them a product of imagination, embarrassing and to be hidden. With the infamous label of “Witch”, over the centuries, a woman who was simply more desirable than others, freer, warrior-like, educated, and reserved was often branded, leading to persecutions and violent executions of innocent women, bonfires, hangings, beheadings that served to instill in the people a reverential fear of divine justice against paganism, Satanism, sex, and various heresies. The goal of the exhibition is therefore to reconstruct a dispersed and oppressed culture, but one that continually resurfaces, starting from its origins and telling its story through rigorous iconographic research, attesting to all its aspects.


The curator of the “Stregherie” exhibition

Writer, playwright for theaters and music, narrator, performance artist. Art narrator, he has curated exhibitions, including “Corpi da musica. Sylvano Bussotti” (Museo Marino Marini, 2010) and “Il palcoscenico del desiderio” (Pistoia, Cassa di Risparmio, 2010), and the production of Edina Altara and Vittorio Accornero in the exhibition “Storia di famiglia con immagini” at the MAN Museum in Nuoro. He has been creating stories for museums and exhibitions for many years, working, among others, with the Peggy Guggenheim Foundation, Gallerie dell’Accademia, Musei Civici di Prato, Museo Marino Marini in Florence, and numerous other art venues.

Luca Scarlini Speaks

"A woman is born a fairy, in love she's a witch, but for societies and religions, she's a witch."

The narrative created by the exhibition allows true enthusiasts of feminism, gothic literature, metal rock, horror films, anthropology, folklore, or the realization of domestic spells to approach the journey as a narrative machine, following the rooms dedicated to the most relevant moments of the witch’s story and hearing original stories inspired by the works presented in the exhibition. Beyond the countless historical manipulations, the term “witch” essentially indicates an identity deeply connected to the world of nature, a woman often knowledgeable about herbs and master of interpreting signs, whom the folklore of the Rhaetian Alps perfectly defined with the term “Lady of the Game”.