The Lercaro Collection was born from the union of the personal works acquired by Cardinal Giacomo Lercaro (archbishop of Bologna from 1952 to 1968) with those that artists, collectors or simple admirers, over time, have wanted to donate to him as a sign of profound esteem.
The first "gift" dates back to 1971 and is represented by the homage of four Bolognese artists ( Aldo Borgonzoni, Pompilio Mandelli, Enzo Pasqualini, Ilario Rossi ) to the Cardinal on the occasion of his 80th birthday. This is the event that gave rise to the idea of opening up the use of the works to all by setting them up in the rooms of Villa San Giacomo, the Cardinal's residence on the Bologna hills.
In the following years, the gradual opening to an ever wider public and the increase in donations made it necessary to arrange them according to museological criteria. An initial work carried out by Franco Solmi was followed by the artistic direction of Marilena Pasquali who, in 2003, also oversaw the transfer to the current location, renovated thanks to the contribution of the Carisbo Foundation. Finally, in 2008, HE Mons. Ernesto Vecchi, President of the Lercaro Foundation , appointed Andrea Dall'Asta SJ as artistic director, who, respecting the original layout of the collection according to the concept of Wunderkammer (chamber of wonders), rethinks the installation as an expression of an active dialogue between ancient and contemporary .
The permanent collection today includes works by Giacomo Manzù, Arturo Martini, Francesco Messina, Mimmo Paladino, Vittorio Tavernari, Giovanni Boldini, Georges Rouault, Ettore Spalletti and many others. Among the painting and graphic works, works by Giacomo Balla, Filippo de Pisis, Renato Guttuso, Antonio Mancini, Giorgio Morandi, Adolfo Wildt . These dialogue with some valuable ancient works, including a plaster tondo depicting a Madonna del Latte (late 15th-16th century) and three Flemish-made tapestries (late 16th-early 17th century).