Touching Beauty. Maria Montessori Bruno Munari

June 22, 2021 > February 27, 2022

Exhibition conceived and organized by Museo Tattile Statale Omero, Comune di Ancona, in collaboration with Fondazione Chiaravalle Montessori, Associazione Bruno Munari; organized by Azienda Speciale Palaexpo



admission free in via Milano 13

Is it possible to perceive, to recognise and to appreciate beauty also through the sense of touch?


The sense of touch and the experience of beauty have both taken a serious blow from the constraints enforced by the health emergency. Rising to a challenge which may seem bold, but in the wake of its enormous success at the Museo Tattile Statale Omero in Ancona, the Touching Beauty. Maria Montessori Bruno Munari exhibition is finally coming to Rome's Palazzo delle Esposizioni. On the 100th anniversary of Filippo T. Marinetti's Manifesto of Tactilism, the exhibition, whose Rome edition is coordinated by the Azienda Speciale Palaexpo's Art Workshop, is putting the importance of touching and its aesthetic and educational value squarely back in the centre of the stage.

The exhibition offers visitors a unique opportunity to familiarise with two of the most illustrious figures in modern Italian culture – recognised and appreciated throughout the world and here together in an exhibition for the very first time – through the thought and materials of Maria Montessori and the projects and original work of Bruno Munari. While setting out from different experiences, training and thought, they discovered a potential meeting point precisely in the aesthetic experience of touch.  

The exhibition layout, redesigned for the occasion by Fabio Fornasari, is built around five thematic units: shapes; materials; the skin of things; alphabets and tactile narratives; and manipulating and interacting. Each section recounts the dialogue between the two figures using objects, books, and instruments displayed on purpose-devised and -designed tables whose shapes dialogue with the exhibits on the wall. The tour ends with a final workshop table that allows visitors to observe, to manipulate and to experiment in safety with a selection of works and objects allowing them to explore different aspects and links each month.

The exhibition will be hosting over 30 original works and publications by multifaceted artist and designer Bruno Munari, testifying to the way in which the whole of his long creative career, starting in the 1940s, was invariably characterised by a strong interest in the themes of multisensoriality – and of tactility in particular – and by the artistic use of a large quantity and a broad variety of natural and industrial materials for educational purposes. Also on display alongside his useless machines and his tactile messages are his Zizì the Monkey, an original design toy that won him the prestigious Compasso d'Oro award, and the ten works in his positive-negative series. The Roman edition will also be hosting a novelty, the Libroletto consisting of six soft cushions trimmed with micro-stories, which he produced with Marco Ferreri in 1993.  

The exhibition will also be hosting Maria Montessori's educational model and a number of historic objects loaned by the Rome-based Opera Nazionale Montessori for the very first time. There will be a special focus on development materials devised for educating both the senses and the hand, which Maria herself called the organ of our intelligence. Also on display are her thermic tablets, sandpaper letters, geometric solids, pink tower, botanical tables and colour tablets, allowing visitors to discover the world through objects that speak of geometry, geography, music and mathematics while simultaneously building beauty.  

This dynamic exhibition looks towards the future and the possibility of our being able to return to living tactile and multisensorial experiences again in full but with a new, more mature awareness.  


Starting in the autumn (Covid-19 containment measures permitting) we will be holding educational workshops for schools and families, and workshops and training days for teachers, educators and museum professionals based on the Bruno Munari method and on the Montessori model.  

The catalogue of the Touching Beauty. Maria Montessori Bruno Munari exhibition is published by Corraini edizioni.  


Maria Montessori (1870–1952) was an Italian educator, pedagogist, philosopher, doctor of medicine, child neuropsychiatrist and scientist internationally renowned for the method of education named after her and adopted in thousands of kindergartens, elementary, middle and upper schools all over the world. She was one of the first Italian women to obtain a degree in medicine.

Bruno Munari (1907–98) was one of the greatest names in art, design and the graphic arts of the 20th century, invariably devoting his creative energy to experimentation but with a special focus on the world of children and their games. His creations in the fields of painting, sculpture, design, photography and education embrace a multitude of different styles as they follow the thread of his own highly personal originality.