The Civic and Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art of Montalcino is housed within a portion of the former convent of St. Augustine, which dates back to the 15th century and stands beside the Church of Saints Philip and James. The restoration in 1977 made it possible to unite the preexistent Diocesan and Civic Museums and to create an environment suitable for the display of the large altarpieces, panel paintings and groups of sculptures which, arranged in chronlogical order, lead visitors on a long, compelling journey through the art produced in this city over the centuries.
The ample and thorough collection makes it possible to discover art created here from the Middle Ages through to the historic 1900s, with particular attention paid to the Sienese painting tradition of the 1400s and 1500s, as represented by the works of masters such as Bartolo di Fredi, Simone Martini, Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Giovanni di Paolo and Sano di Pietro.
Particularly noteworthy among the varied works are the many painted wooden sculptures that were created by leading artists of the time, including Jacopo della Quercia and Francesco di Valdambrino, in connection with specific liturgical necessities of the Middle Ages.
The wooden statues create a special atmosphere of sacredness and provide visitors with a sense of the richness of the art in churches and chapels in Montalcino and the surrounding countryside.
Among masterpieces such as the Crucifix by Giambologna (1529-1608), there are also also breathtaking displays of Medieval ceramics, fabrics, goldwork, miniatures and two volumes of an illuminated Bible from the ancient abbey, Abbazia di Sant’Antimo, dating back to the 12th century.
A small room at the end is dedicated to the fascinating paintings of the Montalcino artist Arturo Luciani (1861-1936), who lived in Brazil for many years, working as a painter and photographer.
An impressive collection of archaeological artifacts, conserved thanks to the untiring work of volunteers, is kept in the Archaeological Section of the Civic and Diocesan Museum, where visitors may retrace the archaeological history of Montalcino from prehistoric times through to the Etruscan Period.