The Neri Foundation is a no-profit organization set up in 2005 and approved by the Italian Government. It focuses its attention and research on the cities, with their rich history, as well as their complex future expectations.
It focuses its attention and research on the cities, with their rich history, as well as their complex future expectations. More specifically, the Foundation on-going research focus on the lighting and decorative objects in the cities is driven by the birth of the modern city, in the middle of the 19th century, which featured a high number of “street furniture”.
At the time, the city centre became a living space, socially shared and therefore a public place, thanks to the simple yet essential functions performed by a comprehensive range of products: providing light during the night, rest and relaxation, as well as security.
The Neri Foundation is as a unique and almost exclusive centre of research on metal history and production techniques, particularly on cast iron, as this material was used on a very large scale for the production of object that have provided light and decorated European cities (and extra-European cities) in the mid-19th century.
A wide range of differently manufactured and originated item, collected over time and saved from destruction, is complemented by a comprehensive archive of documents, consisting of specific texts, foundry catalogues, vintage photographs.
Within this historical context, the focus has been extended to modern cities, to their architectures, and to how abandoned spaces have been reused, to design and to the new challenges required by eco-compatibility.
The MIG (the Italian cast iron museum) boasts a wide collection of objects used in the last centuries to light and decorate Italian and foreign cities. This rich heritage allowed the Neri Foundation to set up and run three permanent exhibitions open to the public.
In the historic centre of Longiano (Emilia-Romagna, Italy), inside the Santa Maria delle Lacrime church, built in the 18th century, a museum was opened in the 1998, displaying some of the most interesting examples of light posts and chandeliers of the collection, together with a significant number of old postcards depicting them in the cities they came from and showing views of Italian and European cities as they appeared in the past. Local visitors and tourists can view these very impressive set up, which allows them to view types of objects that most of them would have never had the opportunity to see.
The Open Air Museum, set up in 2008 in the public garden of Cesena (Emilia-Romagna, Italy), which has been restored to its original 19th century character after a recent restoration work. In the centre of the garden, a gazebo produced by Neri and eight cast iron lamp posts belonging to the Foundation make an impressive surround and create an unusual, very pleasant atmosphere for people seeking peace and quiet and relaxation.
In 2010 the Foundation’s and company’s head office was used to set up a more comprehensive museum, mainly visited by industry operators, university lecturers and students, and by younger students for educational projects, but is open to all. The museum layout allows visitors to view multiple types of vintage cast iron objects, and therefore to find out the crucial role played by some foundries, in terms of production and sales techniques. Although all of these foundries are now closed, they have left a lasting mark in our cities. A carefully planned and manually demanding project that has allowed the community to view practical yet exquisitely attractive objects. It therefore comes as no surprise to find out that these products have been collectively called “industrial art”.