Without doubt, the Palazzo dei Musei is the most important centre in town for museums. In its never ending libraries, archives and galleries, works of art of inestimable value are conserved.
The Palace, built in the typical style of the XVIII century (have a look at the tympanums), was ordered by Duke Francesco III some years after the construction of the edifice on the other side of the square, in 1764. Famous achitects worked on the project, such as Pietro Termanini, Andrea Tarabusi, Francesco Croce and Francesco Vandelli. The original employment of the palace was as a hotel for the poor. In 1788, however, Duke Ercole III decided to transform it into a hotel of art, the place where the Modenese youth could be educated into artigianal jobs. Since 1881 it has been a Municipal property.
Beyond the entrance, in the courtyard, the statue represents the Duke of Ferrara, Borso d’Este. Around him, the Museo Lapidario Estense. Other Roman archeological finds are in the nearby courtyard. On the right, a sort of lay chapel is dedicated to the architect Luigi Poletti and it is the entrance to the library which bears his name. The great staircase leads visitors to the various Museums: Archivio Storico Comunale, Biblioteca Estense, Musei Civici archeologico-etnologico e d’arte medievale e moderna°°, the Estense Gallery°°, certainly one of the major picture gallery of Italy.