The MOGAM Is Part Art Gallery, Part Historic Italian Motorsport Museum
If you’re at all used to my articles, you will know that I put beauty and aesthetics not above the essential elements of life, but on par with them. Air lets me breath, beauty is what moves me. I would almost dare to call myself a researcher of it, a voracious collector of empirical data. I’m lucky to have been born in Sicily, where the data runs deep.
The story I’d like to share today began for me in 2013, when, for the first time, I stepped into one of the most hidden and outstanding places on our island. In the centre of Catania, a wonderful city below Mount Etna, immersed in a beautiful 2000m² complex of a private estate built in 1977, there is the MOGAM.
What would you call this place, an automotive museum? An art gallery? A collection run rampant? I don’t know how to define the Modern Gallery of Arts and Motors without showing you what it houses, and I’ll let you decide if you want to try to categorize it at all.
This place takes on a different kind of importance than your typical collection of rare autos and automobilia, it moves away from the stereotype of a museum being a pleasant but dusty, an important but boring place. These descriptors have no place here. Here, the artworks screams. Not only created with brushes but with steel and carbon.
In 2013, when I went to this wonderful place for the first time, I did not have the same sensitivity toward its objects that I do today, and I took it for granted, appreciating it but not respecting it in the way that I do now. I knew that the MOGAM had to end up on the pages of Petrolicious at some point, and I kept it close to my heart, as if it were something that belonged to me—who could help feeling selfish when these are the treasures at stake?
Of course, I would rather spread beauty around the world than keep it isolated by geography, so I reentered the MOGAM on a cold December morning, bathed in a soft sun offering just enough hope with the warmth. After getting lost in the wonderful streets of the city and wasting some time between a culinary stop and… another culinary stop, I left the city center for the museum, which is located outside the center but still easily reached by taking two buses.
Arriving and crossing the gates of the villa, the scene is suddenly full of flowers, trees, colors. An estate full of charm, where you expect to find things out of the ordinary, and then a very kind custodian brings me inside the MOGAM.
The museum is an extremely modern and well-studied structure, developed in three large halls, all full of works of art, drivable and not. I feel a tinge of ninja as I start to photograph the cars, avoiding fingerprints and shoe squeaks alike in the religious silence of this place that I have to myself.
Over 30 cars are in these halls amidst the memorabilia, and I am soon fighting the strain of my attention being snagged on all of it. Eras and driving disciplines are are well-covered, but in terms of country of origin, it is decidedly Italian: Ferrari F40, Dino 206, Alfa Aurelia B20, Ferrari Enzo, Ferrari 288 GTO, a special Pininfarina Lancia Thema Ferrari, and a sprinkling of bikes from Ducati, MV Agusta, Laverda.
The cars stand out in the white of the lighting that emphasizes their forms, and everything is treated with a maniacal level of care you’d expect in a top art gallery. And indeed, on the walls, mixed between the cars in a perfect visual cocktail, the works of artists of the futurism style peep out, a movement that arguably first introduced the concepts of many of these cars. Artworks that are difficult to find in private collections and which are difficult to see with so much ease.
The recipe is a winner. The mix works perfectly and thrills palates of all kinds, even those who are not very attached to art as myself. Entering the MOGAM, I got to review and revise my concept of art, taking into consideration what I saw, assimilating and expanding my culture. What more could you want from a museum visit? I devoured the first great hall, but the most beautiful part, for those who really love racing cars, was still to come.
Walking through the corridors full of memorabilia, I end up in the studio, in the office that all fans would like. There, standing between a desk and a library full of memories, an F2 Dino 166 and an F2001. Entering that little cave, everything lies motionless as a testimony of time, of racing, of the sweat of the brow, of the red passion, alive but inestimable. To remember what defined Ferrari, to remember what Italian motoring meant in the past.
All the sensations felt, the beauty seen with my eyes, the imagined rhombus, make the MOGAM a magnificent sensory experience, an opportunity that everyone should take should it come to them—if you are ever near Catania, take a leap. Visit this special place. You will be welcomed by the professionalism of Dr. Veronica Parasiliti, and by the kindness of the rest of the staff, always attentive and ready to respond to your questions and to tell you a few stories along the way. Believe me, some are actually funny.