• Italiano

The Auschwitz Italian Memorial

The Auschwitz Italian Memorial

Memorial in honour of the Italians deceased in Nazi death camps (Memoriale in onore degli Italiani caduti nei campi di sterminio nazisti)

Studio BBPR, Milan (Lodovico Belgiojoso, Enrico Peressutti, Alberico Belgiojoso, Giuseppe Lanzani), Mario (Pupino) Samonà, Primo Levi, Nelo Risi.

Block 21 of Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum, 1980-2016

EX 3 Building, Gavinana district, Florence, since 8 May 2019

In 1970, the Italian Association of Ex Deportees to Nazi Concentration Camps (A.N.E.D.) sent an appeal to the Auschwitz-Birkenau National Museum for the creation of an Italian pavilion to document the dramatic history of the deportation of Italian people. The proposal was accepted and Italy was awarded Block 21.

A working committee was created, with Gianfranco Maris, Dario Segre, Bruno Vasari, Lodovico Barbiano di Belgiojoso, Emilio Foà, Teo Ducci and Primo Levi, joined by Ada Buffulini and Italo Gerroni. The committee invited the film director Nelo Risi to collaborate, and asked the composer Luigi Nono (1924-1990) the permission to play in the Memorial his composition Ricorda di quello che ti hanno fatto in Auschwitz - Remember what they did to you in Auschwitz. The iconographic project and the painting was entrusted to Mario "Pupino" Samonà[1]. The architecture project was commissioned to the Studio BBPR[2] Lodovico and Alberico Beljoioso, whilst the structure of the work was realized by Giordano Quattri in 1979.

The Memorial is therefore the result of a choral design, and is one of the first multimedia installations in the world. The choice of the authors was to use art as an instrument to represent the history of political and racial deportation. With its spiral form, its intention is to represent Nazi violence devastating Italian deportees in concentration death camps. "In our project we tried to recreate and allude to a nightmare atmosphere, the nightmare of a tormented deportee between an almost inevitable death and a faint hope of survival, by means of a walkway going through an endless series of coils of a helicoidal painted fabric ribbon, that accompanies the visitor from beginning to end. The idea is a unitary, obsessive space, realized with a rhythm of alternated and equidistant zones of light and shade, allowing also to see through windows the other "blocks" of the camp, an equally obsessive vision"[3]. (Ludovico Belgiojoso, April 1980)

The Italian Memorial was placed on the ground floor of Block 21 between July and November 1979 and was inaugurated by its promoter and owner A.N.E.D. on 13 April 1980.

The installation is composed of many different elements – 23 canvases of different size and shape; metal tubes of the supporting structure; a walkway recalling railway tracks and a lighting and audio system; all together recreate a space wrapping and taking the viewer on a journey inside its spirals.

The visit route, 80 metres long, is developed in a first area housing the first four spirals of the tunnel; a corridor follows, with a canvas on its ceiling and illustrative panels on its walls; the tunnel then continues in a space containing five spirals; next a small passageway with a canvas on its ceiling leads into a long room ending the route with twelve spirals. “The spiral has been conceived as a large fresco, partly as a composition of painted strokes commenting, underlining and accentuating the intentionally emotional values of the architectural space, partly alluding, through evocative images of Italian history since the beginning of Fascism until the Nazi deportation, to the series of dramatic moments of struggle, suffering, despair and hope, concluding with a breach towards a better world that opens at the moment of liberation. There are few written indications; the communication is mainly entrusted to space, to the suggestions of the pictorial composition and to images[4]. (Lodovico Belgiojoso, April 1980).

Lodovico Barbiano di Belgiojoso and Primo Levi, among the authors, had been respectively deported to the death camps of Auschwitz and Mauthausen.

At the entrance of Block 21, and now at the entrance of the Ex-3 building, were illustrative panels realized by the BBPR studio, with photographs of other monuments to Memory in Italy.


The recent events of the Memorial - from Auschwitz to the Ex-3 building in Florence. 

The artwork, blamed of not responding to the new “guidelines” that the Auschwitz Museum had established after the fall of the Berlin Wall, was closed to the public in 2009 on behalf of the Museum management, which in 2014 even threatened the dismantling and destruction of the Memorial.

Following the decision of the Polish authorities to remove the Italian Memorial from the Auschwitz camp, the Italian Government commissioned the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities to transfer the work to Italy. Meanwhile, a new and worthy venue was searched for this important artwork, and research was started for the preparation of a new Memorial, according to the indications received. In 2011, the Istituto Superiore per la Conservazione ed il Restauro (ISCR, Rome) received the commission to verify the technical feasibility of dismantling the work and transferring it to another location. When it was established in 2015 that the artwork’s new site was to be Florence, the Opificio delle Pietre Dure was involved and thus joined the ISCR. On a project of the ISCR and with the company CBC - Conservation Beni Culturali executing the work, the documentation, the dismantling and the transportation of the Memorial were thus carried out.

The dismantling of the work was particularly complex due to its large size and to adverse environmental conditions; the approximately 550 square meters of painted canvas were removed, and placed onto 23 rollers, realized so as to create the best conservation conditions for the artwork; the other constituent elements were also dismantled. All the operations were accurately documented by the ISCR, also with a 3D image, of fundamental importance in view of the subsequent reassembly. A specialized company took care of the journey to Florence, where all the elements of the Memorial were received on February 1, 2016 and stored in the premises of the EX-3 building, constantly monitored by the OPD to ensure compliance with optimal conservation conditions.

Before reassembling the Memorial, the OPD decided to examine in depth its conservation conditions, which soon proved to be in absolute need of restoration. The three objectives of the OPD - intervention, research and training - were all involved in this important project. The OPD department of Easel Paintings assigned a MA degree dissertation to a student of OPD Higher Education School, focused on the definition of the Memorial’s intervention project, with the collaboration of restorers and scientific experts. The results of the study were then shared with the owner, A.N.E.D., the civic executive board of Florence and the Region Tuscany; planning was thus started to make the project possible. The necessary economic funding was ensured by the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze, whilst the necessary large spaces were provided by Firenze Fiera. The OPD continued the project management and the technical consultancy for the restoration work, which was entrusted to the company Cooperativa Archeologia, with extra hired specialized personnel. The intervention concerned the structural restoration of the painted canvases, their cleaning with removal of dirt and stains accumulated over years during its display, and their re-tensioning onto the supporting structure, which was also restored. Very important was the close collaboration between the architects in charge of the installation and the restorers, to optimally organize the challenging reassembly of the Memorial.

This project can be considered one of the largest and most complex conservation projects carried out on a contemporary work of art; it was made possible thanks to the great spirit of collaboration of all parties and individuals involved, deeply motivated by the ethical and civil need to ensure the fruition of the Auschwitz Italian Memorial for future generations, safeguarding its significances and all it represents over time. Its structural reconstruction and its indoors installation has maintained features faithful to its original setting, in order to reconstruct the artwork not only as a series of painted canvases but recreating also the sensations that its inner walkway is meant to arise.


Artistic technique

The load-bearing structure forming the spiral on which the painted canvases are tensioned is made of two metal tubes (Ø 4.5 cm) bent to make two spirals at a distance of 170 cm from each other.

The total length of each tube is about 12 metres. The spirals have a maximum height from the ground of 295 cm ca. and a maximum width of 465 cm ca., and are anchored to the wall and to the floor.

The canvases. The entire installation consists of 23 painted canvases. 18 canvases measure about 12.50 x 2.20 metres, and are mounted on tubes so that two edges of each canvas are beneath the walkway, thus making the spiral continuous. 3 canvases are about 8 x 2.20 metres and are placed between the Memorial’s inner spaces; the other 2 canvases are rectangular (10 x 2 and 2.6 x 2 metres): they are tensioned on a linear metal tube frame and are placed on the ceiling of the two passageways connecting the rooms in which the Memorial spiral is developed.

The canvas of the support is made of non-mercerised cotton fabric, with no sizing. Its weave is plain, with a weave-warp ratio equal to 1:1; the thread count is high, resulting in a very dense and compact weave. The canvases were originally probably cut into portions of variable length -10 metres to 12.5 metres - within the spaces of their producing firm, Quattri; a thin layer of titanium white acrylic ground layer was then applied with an aerograph, only on the side to be painted.

Tensioning system. Hems were created along the long edges of the canvases, folding and gluing a width of 7 centimetres of fabric onto the back of the canvas, with a polyvinyl acetate adhesive. The hems were then die-cut along their entire length in order to insert aluminium eyelets, 20 centimetres from each other, which housed S-shaped metal hooks to latch to an elastic cord to tension the canvases onto the metal structure.

Difficulties arose during the assembly of the Memorial - which took place from August to November 1979 - as it proved impossible to adapt the rectangular canvas strips to the shape of the spiral sectors. 18 of the 23 canvases, originally rectangular, were therefore modified, giving them an “S” shape, so as to be able to tension them onto the elliptical spiral sections of the metal structure. The 18 canvases, mostly divided into three pieces, were reassembled with head joints held together by strips of canvas glued onto the back of the joints with a synthetic adhesive; in one case the joint was instead created by overlapping the edges of painted canvas. The shape, thus modified, could thus adapt to the the spiral sectors: a first part ascends with an accentuated curving; the vault presents a very low arch; the last part returns back to the ground, once more with accentuated curving, at an offset position. The three textile portions composing the large bands of canvas belong to the same type of cotton fabric.


Paint layers

The artist Pupino Samonà painted the canvases proceeding in phases and using different artistic techniques. Upon a titanium white acrylic ground he created a story sequence, recalling Italian political events between the end of the First World War and the Second World War.

The artist used pictorial techniques more commonly found on paper, such as pastel, watercolours, felt-tip pens, pencil, both in the preparatory drawings, that he exceptionally realised for this installation, as in the essential figurative parts of the artwork.

The materials used for the images on the canvases present a correlation to the intentions of Samonà: “The figurative parts will disappear with time, I used a different kind of colour that fades under light: the portraits will fade; a subliminal ghost will remain... a trace of colour narrating that human tragedy until the explosion of freedom...”. Despite the artist’s declaration, the traces of colour are still quite clear and defined. Samonà probably used pigments unstable to light or a poorly coherent binder only in certain strokes, which are now not easy to detect.

The backgrounds of the canvases were painted with mixed techniques, mainly with acrylic paints, sprayed on the spiral’s vast intertwined arches. The colours used are few, but have a strong symbolic meaning: “yellow, red, white and black, symbolically representing the Jewish ethnic group, Socialism, Catholics and Nazi-Fascist darkness” (Pupino Samonà). Initially there is a high predominance of only red over black, but almost immediately black expands and prevails also over yellow, until, in the last spiral of the walkway, black gives way to positive colours, red-yellow-white, symbols of the victory of Socialist ideals, and the dissolution of Nazi persecution.

All the colours of the canvas called “S-17”, the subject of the OPD Higher Education School dissertation, were examined with X-ray Fluorescence, Raman spectroscopy and FORS investigation techniques, whilst samples were analysed under the Optical Microscope, Scanning Electronic Microscope and by means of Pyrolysis–gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (Py-GCMS).

Colours used in the central parts of the canvases.

At least two different types of black were used to define the contours and general lines of the composition. Most of the contours were realized with a matt black, with strokes very similar to those of pastels and charcoal pencils. The analyses did not clearly identify the binder, whilst the Raman analyses identified Carbon Black as the dye used.

The other kind of black, with a more intense, shiny and full-bodied colour, similar to strokes realized with oil pastels, was used to create certain details of the figurative parts. The analyses detected the probable presence of Carbon Black, and of odd-chain fatty acids and cholestanes, belonging to an animal fat.

The reddish-brown strokes have a glossy appearance when observed against light. The analyses reveal that the material probably contains hematite and used with oil crayons or waxes.

The appearance of the lighter red colour is matt, even against light. These strokes were realized with crayons or pencils with a gum-based binder.

There are two types of green, one darker and one lighter, with a glossy appearance when viewed against light: similar to oil pastels and waxes. The dye is probably a mixture of phthalocyanine blue and yellow.

The light blue traits are phthalo blue. There is no information on the binder, but the glossy strokes are similar to those of wax crayons.

Colours used in the two outer parts of the strips of canvas.

In the figurative elements of the two canvases at the upper and lower end (glued on after modifying the support) there are at least two different types of black, identical to those used in the central portion. In both cases, Carbon Black is the basic colorant of the artistic materials used.

It was not possible to identify the binder or the dye of the light red tones, but the materials seem similar to wax crayons or oil pastels. The shine of the surface appears altered due to the presence of a slightly glossy fixative.

Colours of the backgrounds applied with a spray gun. In the parts between the arches the binder is a copolymer of EA/MMA, characteristic of acrylic paints in aqueous dispersion (Spectrophotometry FT-IR and Py-GC-MS). The palette is composed mainly of synthetic dyestuffs: X-Ray Fluorescence measurements and SEM analyses of the backgrounds showed the absence of chromophore elements. The dyes were identified using Raman Spectrophotometry, which determined the presence of the following synthetic dyes: Rutile in the whites, Yellow 1 in the yellows and Carbon Black in the black areas. For the reds, the analyses revealed that two different dyes were used, according to the phases of realization of the Memorial. The reds of the central canvas are based on a dye called Red 3, whilst the dye used for the canvases of the two ends added later is Red 112. The difference between these two dyes is faintly visible, with Red 112 being slightly brighter.

A fixative was applied, with an airbrush and rather unevenly, on the whole of the painted surface, probably before the canvases were modified in their present form during the summer of 1979, yielding a demi-matt effect; it also guaranteed stability to the paint layers applied a secco by Samonà in the central portions of the canvases. On the ending parts of the canvas, added as a result of the modification, an acrylic-vinyl fixative was instead applied, both with a protective and fixing function, probably after re-tensioning the canvas onto the metal structure. This would explain the marked UV fluorescence response only on the surface that was visible, and why the non-visible parts of the background do not emit NIR fluorescence during the Raman analysis. A different kind and quantity of fixative on the added ending parts could have been chosen to protect the areas that were more exposed to the passage of visitors and thus more prone to accidental damage, or maybe for a higher degree of protection of the paint layers on the parts that were more likely to receive more dust.

The boardwalk. In Block 21 (as also now in the spaces of the EX3 building), the visitors would go along a walkway inside the spirals, on a boardwalk at 30 centimetres from the ground, made of coniferous wood board modules (2 x 1 m) placed next to each other. The modules are anchored to the floor by means of an iron frame 25 centimetres from the floor.

The space between the wooden planks and the canvases is delimited by a wooden balustrade 36 centimetres high, placed along the entire perimeter of the platform, delimits. 

Lighting and audio system. The elements of the lighting are screwed to the side of the boardwalk. Underneath are the loudspeakers and the sound system. The original system stopped working a few years after the inauguration of the Memorial. The spherical loudspeakers were suspended from the floor and unstably tied to the underlying metal frame with electric wire. There were no loudspeakers in the two passages between the longer rooms.


Conservation Conditions  

At Auschwitz, the Memorial was closed to visitors from 2009, except for rare visits on request. In 2008 a student work-site of the Academy of Fine Arts of Brera, Milan, led by the teachers, had taken care of a maintenance of the structures and a recognition of the conservation conditions of the canvases. Since that date no further maintenance had been carried out on the Memorial.  

During the dismantling of the Memorial from Block 21 on behalf of the Roman company C.B.C., all of its constituent elements were coded and catalogued; laser surveys were carried out and a descriptive and conservation report was written for each of the installation elements.

The textile supports of the artwork presented several conservation problems, mainly due to installation choices, a prolonged neglect in its exhibiting site and a portion of the canvases had been separated in view of the handling for moving the artwork from Auschwitz to Florence.

The tensioning of the canvas on an elliptical support structure had caused the formation of folds and permanent deformations of the textile support, both horizontal and diagonal, particularly pronounced in the areas of the structure’s maximum curving, where the canvas following the direction of the spiral was most stressed. These pleats immediately became a typical feature of the Memorial’s appearance, and are clearly visible in the photographs taken on the opening day.

There are deformations also due to the tensioning system, that foresaw a discontinuously applied elastic cable, with an uncontrolled force, inside metal hooks inserted into aluminium eyelets along the long edges of the canvases (see the artistic technique: canvases).

Over the years and in the lack of maintenance, the elastic cables deteriorated, losing their physical properties and causing further unevenness in the canvas tensioning system. These factors caused a considerable slackening of the textile supports and led to the increase of deformations, caused also by the considerable weight of the canvas.

The uncontrolled traction forces also caused deformations of the canvas around the metal rings, leading to tears in certain areas. Some of the canvases also present small rips, due to accidental impacts.

The adhesive used for gluing the portions of canvas together appears yellowed; the vinyl adhesive had been applied coarsely - in many areas it is visible even beyond the edges of the textile reinforcement patches and, on some canvases, also along the seam line on the painted front side.

Another conservation problem encountered was that a portion of the canvases had been detached: the S-shape of the canvases had required, for the transfer of the canvases from Auschwitz to Florence, a solution that would allow them to be placed on a roller, the most suitable for long-term storage. The possible consequences for the pictorial film had been evaluated, as the deformations would created a conical shape in their rolling, with the formation of critical folds, which could not be solved by inserting padding material. After considering various solutions, many of which could not be realized due to logistic factors, the executing company CBC, in agreement with the Project Manager, decided to separate a portion of one canvas, choosing the textile support that, after a careful control, had been considered to have more deformations and defects. The choice of which of the two portions to detach and separate was based on the conservation conditions and ductility of the fabric, in order to facilitate the best rolling of the textile for its optimal protection. The most suitable system to separate a portion of canvas was by cutting with scissors the reinforcement canvas strip along the joining line of two portions of fabric, created in the modification phase of the artwork.

Overall, the canvas still seems to have a good mechanical resistance and a fair degree of flexibility but, due to a prolonged lack of maintenance, a lot of dirt has accumulated on the back of the most exposed areas of the artwork, penetrating deep into the fibres of the canvas. A very slight acidity of the support was measured: probably due to its bleaching processes, it is low enough not to need a deacidification treatment.

As for the paint layers, the prolonged neglect had caused the accumulation of dust and consistent deposits on the entire surface of the artwork, particularly in the areas of the spiral underneath the walkway and in the areas most exposed to the depositing of particulate matter caused by gravity, such as the ending parts of the canvases, which appeared more grey. A conspicuous amount of atmospheric particulate matter has penetrated into the micro irregularities of the pictorial layers, especially where the texture of the canvas support characterizes the surface and is clearly perceptible in areas where the pictorial layers are very thin.

On the portions of canvas located beneath the wooden platform, there were many marks due to the percolation of water (probably caused during the washing of the walkway or by visitors passing with snow-wet shoes during the winter season), as well as dirt stains and consistent accumulated deposits, present even in depth both on the painted front and on the back.

The areas with figurative elements, mainly carried out with pastels, charcoal and pencils, do not present evident losses of colour. Overall, the colour fields realized with a spray gun present an adequate elasticity and only a limited degree of decohesion, even though the particular artistic technique, based on the nebulisation of many micro-droplets of paint that join together to form a pictorial film, has sometimes led to an imperfect adhesion of colour particles to the textile support.

The paint layers in areas where the canvas touches the iron tubes of the supporting structure presents scratches and surface abrasions, that have caused limited losses of the paint layer.

In the areas carried out with acrylic paints, certain zones present different surface saturation features compared to other areas, that could be caused by the migration of surfactants onto the surface.

The protective-fixing coating applied on the end parts of the canvas was discoloured, and had become a pale yellow colour.


The intervention

The objective of the cleaning intervention was to remove in a controlled manner the deposited dirt for conservative reasons, eliminating a cause of degradation, as well as to reduce its negative aesthetic impact, obtaining thus a balance with the other parts of the artwork.

The presence of different artistic techniques and an equally diversified atmospheric deposit layer, made it necessary to diversify aqueous systems, applied with different methods and supporting materials, according to the various areas of the artwork. The presence of exuded surfactants of the acrylic paints on the surface also required a particular attention, to avoid the risk of removing even a minimal part of these materials, constituent components of the acrylic paint film, consisting of acrylic polymers in an aqueous dispersion.

The individuation and use of aqueous systems therefore entailed the need to carry out preliminary tests and take safety measures before and during the intervention: verifying the cleaning system’s compatibility with the constituent materials; measurements of the pH and conductivity of the paint surface, so as to set the parameters of the aqueous solution to be used; the use of suitable supporting agents to reduce the vertical diffusion into the porosity of the layers.

Following the tests, certain areas proved to be hydrophile and others lipophile, thus confirming the different situations present on the artwork’s surface.  

Surface conductivity and pH measurements were taken in many points of the artwork, both in correspondence of the airbrush paint backgrounds as on parts carried out with a secco techniques; measurements were taken also in areas where dry cleaning tests had been carried out. In general, the surface pH values are slightly acidic but still close to neutrality: the measurements vary from a minimum pH of 6.4 to a maximum pH of 7.

On the basis of a series of tests and according to the surface pH values detected, it was decided to use two different values: mainly pH 6, and pH 5.5 only where the pH values of the paint surface were slightly more acid. Two different conductivity values were also identified, namely 700 μs/cm and 1000 μs/cm, depending on how long the solution was to be left in contact with the painted surface.  

A buffer solution was formulated, using 1 M sodium hydroxide as the alkali, as sodium cations are cosmotropic and therefore minimize the solubilisation of surfactants.

- For the buffered solution at pH 5.5, glacial acetic acid was used, as its buffering capacity is in the pH range 3.8-5.8.

- For the buffered solution at pH 6, 85% phosphoric acid was chosen, as its buffering capacity is in the pH range 5.8-8.

The various situations found, deeply diversified between each area of the artwork, conditioned the method and choice of materials to be used for the cleaning.

The presence of a fixative-protective coating, particularly evident in UV fluorescence at the two outer ends of the canvases, allowed to use in these areas a sponge slightly dampened with the buffered solution, in order to eliminate the conspicuous deposit of semi-cohesive and cohesive atmospheric particulate matter.

Following tests to verify the effectiveness of these materials on areas of the artwork with different technical features and conservation conditions and documenting the test areas under a microscope before and after the treatment, the following procedure was identified:

- Use of PU Sponges on the pictorial surface with the protective coating and copious surface deposit: the ductility of the sponges to adapt to the surfaces allowed to remove the dirt penetrated in the paint texture. The size and consistency of the sponges allowed the control of movements and contact with the painted surface at all times. Pressure and a slight simultaneous torsion of the sponge was exerted to facilitate the removal of the consistent deposit. No surface abrasions or changes in the surface reflectance were observed. Examination of the sponge surface confirmed the absence of paint particles.

In the areas with moisture gorges, with the highest amount of consistent deposit on the surface, a first cleaning was carried out with Art sponge to remove the first layers of dirt, followed by a second step with PU sponges, that removed the consistent deposit embedded in the texture. As the water (and maybe also the detergents used to clean the walkway) had carried the dirt inside the fibres of the canvas, it was not possible to completely remove the dirt.

The rest of the pictorial surface was less affected by particulate deposits of particulate matter: being at the top of the spiral curve, there was less dust brought by gravity. However, as there was also less surface fixative, and its quantity varied from area to area, it was not possible to apply the same mechanical action in these areas without the risk of removing small particles of colour. The cleaning system for the areas with less protective coating foresaw a combination of two methods: where the artistic technique allowed it and where there was more surface dirt, the cleaning was performed by lightly dabbing PU sponges dampened with the buffer solution, whilst in the other areas a gel based on polyvinyl alcohol was applied - Peggy 6 thin – with a subsequent dabbing with Peggy 5 Gum, necessary to finish the cleaning of the surface after the action of the first thin gel, especially where there was a higher concentration of surface deposit (chemical gels of the Nanorestore Gel line made by CSGI, Florence, based on polyvinyl alcohol, which decrease the penetrating power of water and improve its wetting action, with a high degree of retention).

As for the protection of the paint layers after the restoration, it was decided not to apply an additional protective layer, as the original coating is still functional. The periodic control of the conservation conditions of the canvases within the foreseen preventive conservation programme, will allow us to evaluate, in the future, the eventual necessity of a new surface protective coating.

The structural restoration of the canvases which had been separated into two parts was performed by applying - over the existing cotton textile strip that had been applied along the head joint and cut for the transfer to Florence - a second strip of polyester canvas frayed along the edges and cut in the direction of the warp, so that the weft is orthogonally placed upon the cut present on the artwork. The gluing was carried out with EVA neutral pH Adhesive, applied only on the polyester canvas.

All the operations were preceded by tests in order to identify the most suitable and methods and materials, also with their application on a scale model of the artwork. This was done also to find the most appropriate method of tensioning the canvases, with a system that allows a controlled and adjustable force over time, as the system originally adopted had caused obvious deformations and in some cases even tearing. The chosen solution foresaw the doubling of the hooking points, with the application of textile eyelets along the inner edge of the canvases, in order to reduce the force applied locally, and the realization of an elastic system with the use of springs with elastic constant and size specifically defined for this case study: it is thus possible to control and adjust the tension force imposed. The spring deformation adjustment is allowed thanks to an inserted nautical tensioner.

For the protection of the back of the canvases and the tensioning system, portions of non-woven fabric were positioned and held in place onto the metal structure by means of a system of magnets.  





Dismantling Project

Funds from the Presidency of the Council of Ministers for the project of the dismantling and relocation to Florence

Luigi Ficacci, ISCR, Director
Gisella Capponi, ISCR, Procedural Officer
Giorgio Sobrà, ISCR, Project Manager
Carlo Birrozzi, Paola Iazurlo, Paolo Scarpitti, ISCR Project
Grazia De Cesare, Paola Iazurlo, ISCR Consultancy
Oriana Sartiani, Andrea Santacesaria, OPD Consultancy

On-site Documentation, dismantling, handling

Executing company

C.B.C. Conservazione Beni Culturali Soc. Coop, Rome:
Carla Bertorello
Matteo Rossi Doria
Marco Santancini
with the collaboration of Vincenzo Ardagna, Simone Cipolletti, Giuliano Sinisi, Geremia Russo

Photographic documentation

Domenico Ventura, Rome

Laser scanner survey

C.P.T. Studio S.r.l., Rome 


Rosa dei Venti, Rome




Restoration Project – Degree Dissertation OPD Higher Education School (SAF)

Marco Ciatti, Superintendent, Dissertation Supervisor, OPD 
Oriana Sartiani, Technical Director, Main Dissertation Supervisor, OPD
Elisa Millacci, Student PFP2 SAF-OPD, A.Y. 2016-2017
Luigi Orata, Supervisor
Paola Iazurlo, Supervisor
Carlo Galliano Lalli, Supervisor

The following people also collaborated in the degree dissertation project:
Giuseppe Zicarelli - Photographic Documentation, OPD
Isetta Tosini, Federica Innocenti - Scientific Analyses, OPD
Monica Galeotti, Sandra Cassi - Climate measurements, OPD
Raffaella Fontana, Marco Raffaelli and Jana Striova, Gruppo Beni Culturali, CNR-INO - Optical Investigations
Alessia Andreotti, Scibec, Chemistry and Industrial Chemistry Department of Pisa University - Chemical analyses
Piero Baglioni, Nicole Bonelli and Giovanna Poggi, Consorzio CSGI, Chemistry Department of Florence University - Consultancy and Materials
Primo Brachi and Mario Mazzetti, Brachi Testing Services - Scientific Analyses
Andrea Santacesaria – Technical Consultant, OPD
Filippo Lagna - Technical Consultant, OPD
Giancarlo Penza - Technical Consultant, OPD
Ilaria Saccani - Collaborator

Restoration work

Restoration work and reassembly of the canvases in Florence (EX 3 building) on a OPD project

Funds from Fondazione CR Firenze for the Restoration work

Worksite Responsible for Fondazione CR Firenze

Armando Guardasoni, Services, General and Legal Affairs Manager
Luca Bigazzi, Logistic coordination
Raffaele Casalini, Legal consultancy

Project Supervisor

Barbara Tosti, Art, Cultural Heritage and Cultural Activities Manager – Fondazione CR Firenze

Scientific Coordinators

Marco Ciatti, Superintendent, OPD
Oriana Sartiani, Project Manager, OPD
Andrea Santacesaria, Technical Consultant, OPD

Restoration Executors

Cooperativa Archeologia:
Maria Laura Franci – Restorer – Head Clerk
Elisa Millacci – Restorer - Consultant
Luigi Orata – Restorer - Consultant
Giovanni Gualdani – Restorer
Debora Minotti – Restorer
Luisa Landi – Restorer
Sonia Saba – Restorer
Arianna Ingrassia – Restorer
Linda Bartolozzi – Restorer
Federica Franci – Restorer
Giulia Basetti – Restorer Collaborator
Yumi Machida – Restorer Collaborator
Antonia Panico – Restorer Collaborator
Adele Meucci – Digital Photogrammetry
Alfred Menaj – Carpentry work
Sofian Benghenissa – Carpentry work

Reassembly of the metal structure

Company Bartoloni Marco
Francesco Marchi
Noschi Mikel

Sound diffusion design and adaptation of music content

Tempo Reale, music research, production and didactics centre
Francesco Giomi
Damiano Meacci



Il Memoriale italiano di Auschwitz e il cantiere Blocco 21, un patrimonio materiale da salvare, Quaderni di ‘Ananke, vol. 1, Florence: ALINEA, 2009

Cavalleri M. et al., Il Memoriale italiano di Auschwitz, l’astrattismo politico di Pupino Samonà, edited bt Giulia Ingarao, Palermo: Kalos, 2010

Il Memoriale italiano ad Auschwitz. Giornata della Memoria 2014. Documentazione, conservazione e progetto di integrazione 2008-2012, eds. Giuseppe Arcidiacono and Sandro Scarrocchia, Academy of Fine Arts, Brera, Milan, Architecture Department, Università di Palermo

Millacci E., Memoriale italiano di Auschwitz: storia della realizzazione e criteri del progetto conservativo. Intervento di restauro di una porzione dell’installazione artistica, Degree Dissertation, OPD Higher Education School, Florence, A.Y. 2016-2017







[1] http://www.pupinosamona.it

[2] http://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/bbpr

[3] From the text by Lodovico Belgiojoso in the leaflet that was given to visitors at the entrance of Block 21, Auschwitz. The text is reproduced, with others, in the leaflet produced by A.N.E.D. for its new location in the  EX 3 building in Florence.

[4] See note 3.