THE ORIGINS OF MYTH
CASA ENZO FERRARI MUSEUM
After a wait of nine long years, the museum complex dedicated to Enzo Ferrari has opened its doors in Modena. His story, vision and genius are recounted in a gallery with a futuristic imprint, the ideal and yet tangible extension of his birthplace that has undergone radical and successful restoration
BLACK AND WHITE images flit across the screen, drawing a private family portrait from early childhood to his formative years and then to the start of a career on the race track and, later, face to face with the big names of the time in motor sports; and when the photographs change to narration, behold the man, the driver and builder, denuded by Enzo Biagi in an interview. Enzo Ferrari is still with us, honoured, as befits personalities who have become legends, with the same passion and creativity, the same taste for challenge and innovation that is summed up in one of his most famous comments: “If you can dream about it, you can do it”.
And the courageous dream became a reality nine years after the competition for designing the work. The Casa Enzo Ferrari Museum was opened to the public on 10 March and is destined to become a new symbol of the city of Modena. Old and new, tradition and modernity together: a futuristic structure erected opposite his father Alfredo’s old workshop, next to the house where “the Drake” was born on 18 February 1898. Very visible in the distance, the gallery’s hi-tech aluminium roof in canary yellow, reminiscent of the curvilinear bonnet of a sports car, is intimidating at first. But once inside the courtyard, the building has all the fascination of a bold architectural complex designed by Prague architect Jan Kaplický like a hand stretching out towards the old house. An embrace that softens the contrast with the house and workshop, the original spaces and characteristics of which have been maintained (like the wrought-iron family crest at the entrance to one and the historical writing on the external wall of the other), and is further attenuated by the lightness of the enormous 12-metre-high sinuous glass facade held only by slender steel cables.
The epic motor sports of Modena
Inside the gallery, the all-white amphitheatre-like space is the uninterrupted and panoramic heart of the exhibition where, like works of art, vehicles of incalculable value are displayed on pedestals: from the Drake’s racing cars to those of the Scuderia Ferrari, which in the Thirties not only raced cars, especially the Alfa Romeos that are now part of the legend, but also motorbikes. And then, a horde of astounding racing cars built by Ferrari, Maserati, Stanguellini and De Tomaso from immediately after the war until the Seventies; the counterpoint is provided by some of the most famous and successful engines, while a meandering series of showcases at the rear of the enormous room displays drawings and technical documents, memorabilia, period publications with new audio-visual contributions, and even models in scale. Outside and inside, design speaks the aesthetic language of racing cars; even the handles and basins in the toilets, which were created with perfect continuity by Andrea Morgante who became project head when Kaplický passed away in 2009.
Curated by Giovanni Perfetti and dedicated to “the origins of myth”, the exhibition in the new gallery is the expression of great Italian brands with cars that come from other museums and private collections. “The Fondazione Casa Natale Enzo Ferrari” – explained chairman Mauro Tedeschini – “does not have them. Besides, the new exhibition complex is dedicated not only to Ferrari vehicles, but also to the legends and glories of Modena’s motor sports”. Enveloped in the yellow that is the symbol of the city and was chosen as the background for its crest and, not by chance, also for the roof of the gallery.
A successful passion
Considering that static exhibitions are no longer successful, the ones here will always be different. Naturally, we will work in close contact with the Ferrari Museum at Maranello and count on contributions by other structures and our friends who are collectors”. Like Mario Righini, the owner the magnificent 815 Auto Avio Costruzioni of 1940 that dominates the entrance to the gallery and opens the visit. It was the first vehicle the Drake built, but as he had just left the management of Alfa-Corse, his name could not be associated with competitions. It was a young and promising Alberto Ascari and marchese Lotario Rangoni Machiavelli who led him along the road to the Mille Miglia. The decans of the exhibition, more than anything else they symbolize Enzo Ferrari’s deep-rooted passion. In 1920 he sold his house to buy a racing car, a 1914 Alfa Romeo 40-60 HP, that was a bomb on the track. “Just like the passion” – said Piero Ferrari, honorary chairman of the Foundation – “that exploded in my father who used to call the Alfa his second mother”. It was in this vehicle that he came second in the Targa Florio in 1920, which marked the start of a twenty-year collaboration with Alfa. His adventures as a racing driver continued from one car to another and, seven years later, when he won the Circuito di Modena in an Alfa Romeo 6C 1500SS, he received the title of “commendatore” for his contribution to sport; this period is represented in the exhibition by two Alfas raced by the Drake, the RL Super Sport Mille Miglia and the impressive Alfa Bimotore 1935, only two examples of which were made.
The cars from the Scuderia Ferrari, which he set up in 1928 and closed ten years later, include the most beautiful racing car of the period, the Alfa Romeo Gran Premio Tipo B P3 aerodinamica, in which Nuvolari won at Monza, the Type C 12C, in which The Flying Mantuan won the Vanderbilt Cup in New York and the Fiat 508 S MM Gold Cup. Ramps lead to the floor below the gallery where the exhibition is illuminated by other masterpieces, the competition cars that in subsequent years made Modena motor sports famous: the Ferrari 166 MM Barchetta Touring of 1948, the 1954 Maserati A6 GCS Berlinetta with the Pininfarina signature, the Stanguellini Formula Junior of 1961 and the De Tomaso Vallelunga that was made four years later. The gallery leads to the restored workshop with a kind of maxi multimedia book, the cover of which is a poster of the first Ferrari, the 125 S, winning the Rome Grand Prix in 1947 with Franco Cortese at the wheel. The story continues with digital projections and showcases: eight chapters that describe Enzo Ferrari’s forward-looking philosophy, with items from everyday life, like his inseparable black glasses, the fountain pen with purple ink, personal documents, including his marriage certificate and driving licence, and interesting articles about the Scuderia Ferrari and the Carrozzeria Touring. The museum has already prepared the subject of the next exhibition: the epic duel between Ferrari and Maserati in the Fifties and Sixties.
• The attractions of a multi-function structure
The museum, in which € 18 million were invested, covers a total area of 5,000-square-metres and includes a classroom with a digital document centre named after Sergio Scaglietti, Enzo Ferrari’s favourite coachbuilder, a conference room and a film theatre; near the entrance to the gallery there is also a cafe and a shop. More than the classic museum bookshop, it is a marketing tool that is part of the museum’s international development strategy and includes collector’s items, furnishing and lifestyle articles dedicated to the great car manufacturers, the pieces exhibited and the excellences of the Modena area, known everywhere as the land of cars, flavours and opera. A comprehensive catalogue describes the passion and creativity on which the Enzo Ferrari legend was built and the contribution that over the years Modena has made to generations of designers, technicians, builders, stylists, drivers and enthusiasts throughout the world. The conference room in the basement of the gallery can be used for company events, road shows, training courses in addition to one-man or corporate exhibitions. This all-round container for fans of the Drake and engines is also ready to welcome graduation parties and even weddings.