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“A big disappointment”

National Gallery (Galleria Nazionale)
Ranked #10 of 138 things to do in Parma
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Reviewed 21 September 2016

There are some wonderful paintings in this gallery, if you can find them. Unfortunately a large part of the collection is hung in the former barns of the Palazzo della Pilotta, and you have to be sure of turning up at the right time in order to be allowed escorted access. You must then search through acres of canvas, the worthy work of artists who are even unknown ("anonimo") in their own province, and of others whose name and fame have not stretched beyond the walls of Parma, in order to find the good things. They are there, but so also is the solitary guardian who is waiting for you so that she can lock up the barn again, and you are aware, as you peer at the poorly lit pictures, that she probably has to supervise another flock of art lovers in an hour or two, and it is unkind to keep her waiting too long. The whole experience, frankly, is depressing. Fortunately the excellent collection of Correggio and Parmigianino is accessible un-shepherded. For the rest, my advice would be to download the page of highlights on the Gallery website and take it with you as a guide. The sooner that Parma copies the excellent initiative of the Galleria Estense in Modena, and hands out a free leaflet depicting and describing the stars of the show, the better. And by the way, if you find a painting that you really like, by Correggio, Leonardo, Guercino, Canaletto, El Greco, Fra Angelico, Holbein, Cima, Bellotto, Zoffany (they're all there) and want to look for a reproduction, a postcard or even a fridge magnet, to take home, don't bother - there isn't even a shop!

Date of experience: September 2016
2  Thank Samuel007
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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"leonardo da vinci"
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"mona lisa"
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"nice collection"
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"excellent museum"
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35 - 39 of 454 reviews

Reviewed 16 September 2016 via mobile

Travelled on an early train from Milan to arrive for the morning as website states some rooms only open until 12pm.
After purchasing tickets, entered through farnese theatre, only to be told that a show was being prepared and access was limited. Limited meant a glimpse through scaffolding from one corner.
Went straight to rooms with limited morning access times, to find out most of this was closed due to staff shortages.
No Da Vinci...it is out on loan.
No Caneletto... in closed section.
One Bellotto (the one shown on website)not on show.
Baroque section and all of upstairs closed, again because of lack of staff.
Correggio labelled but not on the wall above.
The lighting on the few paintings we did enjoy was terrible.
And to top it all... could not give any feedback as apparently nobody could speak English.
If you like badly lit pre 16th century Madonna 's, children and cherubs, a visit maybe worthwhile.
Definitely not worth an early start, 2 x train tickets and 2 x €10 entry.

Date of experience: September 2016
2  Thank Gary5150
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 September 2016 via mobile

Dedicated largely to local artists, I enjoyed visiting this gallery. As others have said, a large wing is closed due to lack of staff, but they do run hour long tours of the closed section at various times (I did one at noon). They may not advertise this if you are an English speaker, I was offered the tour when I spoke in Italian at the ticket office. The tour guide only speaks in Italian, but it is worth doing just to see some of the beautiful works that are otherwise inaccessible. Yes, much of the art is religious but you need to remember that this was pretty much all artists were allowed to paint at the time. There is also a beautiful little room dedicated to Bocchi, a local artist of the early 20th century.

Date of experience: September 2016
Thank 787jom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 August 2016

Note - you have to climb 68 steps to get to the entrance to the Galleria Nationale which is part of a complex of attractions contained in the Palazzo della Pilotta, the others being the Farnese Theatre, the Museo Archeologico and the Biblioteca Palatina. In fact the Farnese Theatre is the entrance to the Galleria Nationale, hence the combined ticket. We happened to visit on the first Sunday of the month when it turned out these, and a number of other attractions, were free.

Unfortunately the gallery's jewel in the crown, a work by Leonardo da Vinci, was on loan to the Met in New York. However there were other works by Fra Angelico, Corregio, Parmigianino, Caneletto, Crespi, Murillo, El Greco and Van Dyk. It would be fair to say though that the majority of the works were of religious themes.

There are a number of different areas that make up the gallery, some obviously of a newer construction built since WWII, and others part of the original Pallazo della Pilotta. 

Whilst in some areas the artwork was well displayed, with descriptions in Italian and English, in others it was appalling.

One area in particular was approximately 100 metres long by say, 15 metres wide, with a very high ceiling. The paintings in this area were largely displayed on the front and back of partitions that were, whilst perpendicular to the wall, all on one side of the building and only 2/3 metres apart, leaving a great open space down the other side of the building. It was difficult to get far enough away to see these paintings given the reflection of the lighting.

But worse still were the partitions that were placed parallel to the side walls but only a metre away from the wall. There were over 20 paintings on the back of these partitions, including several works by Murillo and a Crespi - what an abuse of these works. If we had not seen someone else looking at the back of these partitions we would have missed seeing the paintings. As it was it was almost impossible to fully view, and therefore, appreciate them.

Also in some areas the description of the artist and the work was directly under the painting with the lighting throwing a shadow on it so you had to bend down to see it. In other areas the signage was on the floor - not great when other people were standing in front of the works.

Despite this, worth a look, particularly after the da Vinci is returned.

Date of experience: August 2016
2  Thank westy54
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 5 August 2016

Some nice works by 15th century Parma artists, some nice 5th century works, well kept collection. And one can also visit the Farnese theatre.

Date of experience: August 2016
Thank carlosmp
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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