The Lace Museum is the only one in the whole of Liguria dedicated mainly to bobbin lace, or bobbin lace, which has been produced since the 16th century in various centres along the Riviera and is still worked today.
On display in the rooms are a large number of artefacts dating from the 16th to the 20th century: lace made using bobbin lace and other techniques, preparatory designs, sample books and embroidery, antique bobbins, clothes, fashion accessories, children’s clothing, personal and household linen
Most of the lace comes from the archives of the famous and award-winning lace and embroidery factory founded in Rapallo by Mario Zennaro in 1908 and active until 1968.
Of exceptional interest is a large panel made entirely of various types of lace joined in mosaic, representing the characters of the Commedia dell’Arte, conceived and designed in 1964 by the famous illustrator and set designer Lele Luzzati to decorate an American cruise ship
The museum is located in the elegant Villa Tigullio, an ancient patrician residence surrounded by the beautiful Casale Park and the sea, and is easily accessible on foot or by car.
Here you can consult the multimedia catalogue of the collections and purchase the Museum Notebooks and the illustrated CD-ROM.
The Museum opened the three rooms on the ground floor to the public in 1990 and the five rooms on the lower floor in 1997; the upper floors house the International Library.
The collections are made up of more than 1,400 very rare and valuable lace artefacts dating from the 16th to 20th century, ranging from garments, to furniture, to individual lace items, a dozen bobbins dating from the second half of the 17th century to the end of the 19th century, and about 5,000 patterns and cartoons used for lace production.
It originates from a donation received by the Rapallo City Council in the 1970s from the Rapallo Lions Club following the closure of the famous Manifattura Zennaro, which, for over half a century active in Rapallo, produced lace of such quality that it immediately crossed the Ligurian borders to reach national and international markets, winning prestigious prizes in various art competitions.
Mario Zennaro, an entrepreneur and man of culture, collected and selected rare textiles and lace artefacts throughout his life and thus left a valuable collection of his own, which is currently owned by the Lace Museum together with samples, cartoons and drawings from the manufactory.
As a consequence of the opening of new rooms in the museum, other rare collections were donated in 1997.
The tour, which winds its way through two floors for a total of eight rooms, thus allows us to admire, on the upper floor, among a sampling of artefacts from the Zennaro Collection, a large lace panel made in the 1960s shortly before the closure of the Manufacture on a commission from an American shipping company for the ballroom of a cruise ship.
The 8.10 m long and 1.15 m high panel, based on a design by the great stage designer and painter Lele Luzzati, represents the Italian Commedia dell’Arte and summarises the lace and embroidery techniques to a good extent.
On the lower floor, the artefacts are displayed according to manufacturing techniques and places of production and one can admire, among other things, fine lace in silver and gold, a very precious christening outfit, a set of bonnets, antique parasols, bourgeois and aristocratic dresses, and a collection of haute couture dresses from the mid-19th century.
The lace industry in the Riviera di Levante flourished at its peak in the 16th century, but women were already working lace with gold, silver and silk threads in the 13th century, which were used for altars, sacred vestments and bedspreads.
In the 15th century, lace-making turned more towards clothing and the work began to be appreciated at the French court; in 1684, however, to protect its industries, France banned the import of lace.
The use of lace by Genoese ladies was so widespread that, in an edict of 1705, strict regulations were established to limit the application of lace on women’s clothes. Lace-making, however, has remained a Tigullio tradition and the Lace Museum is a reminder of this ancient craft.
As of 5th March 2022, the Museum will be open with the following opening hours:
– SATURDAY from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
– SUNDAY from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
On 18th April 2022 and 25th April 2022, the museum will be open from 2.00 p.m. to 5.00 p.m.
Access to the museum will be possible in strict compliance with current regulations on the containment of Covid-19 virus infection.
Groups by reservation
With closure on the following holidays:
2nd July (Patron Saint)
UNTIL 31st DECEMBER 2022 ADMISSION TO CITY MUSEUMS IS FREE
Villa Tigullio – Parco Casale,
16035 RAPALLO (GE)