A journey through the memory of antiquities in Sicilian archaeological photography of the 19th and 20th century
Salinas was appointed as Associate Professor of Archaeology in Palermo in 1865, the first teacher in the Kingdom of Italy to hold this position. He believed in the need for close and intensive collaboration among scholars in order to ensure an effective advancement of knowledge, and saw continuous dialogue between teachers and students as the lifeblood of a subject.
As director of the National Museum, supported by his intense collaboration with Michele Amari, an Arabist and expert on the Islamic presence in Sicily, he devoted himself with passion and perseverance to the collection and tireless study of a remarkable number of Islamic artefacts, with the intention of setting up an “Arab Room” in Palermo. On 14 April 1874, Salinas wrote to Amari: “...we have the right to have an Arab room in the Museum of Palermo and we shall have it.”
His intense photographic activity was concentrated over a period of time ranging from 1886 to 1913, and produced approximately 3,000 images. He approached photography with scientific rigour and method, as seen from the manuals of photographic technique in his library, taking notes in his notebooks on the photographs taken, lighting conditions, the type of camera used, lenses, exposure, development formulas, etc.
A century earlier, reaching Taormina on 7 May 1787, J.W. Goethe wrote: “Whatever natural form it had, art has contributed to make it a semi-circular theatre for spectators. […] Sitting higher up, where the members of the audience once sat, it has to be said that never, perhaps, has a theatre audience beheld such a sight before it.”
The exhibition was prepared in collaboration with the “Antonino Salinas” Regional Archaeological Museum of Palermo
Images: Historical Photographic Archive of the “A. Salinas” Regional Archaeological Museum in Palermo.
The texts refer to the publication and the following reference bibliography:
“Del Museo di Palermo e del suo avvenire: Il Salinas ricorda Salinas, 1914-2014”: Antonino Salinas Regional Archaeological Museum, Palermo 8 July - 4 November 2014 edited by F. Spatafora and L. Gandolfo, Palermo, Region of Sicily.