History of the House Museum
The House, now owned by the Enrico Berlinguer Foundation, was bought in 1965 by the Italian Communist Party. In the years immediately following, the first restoration operation took place to transform the house into a place for meetings and debates on Gramsci’s thought, on the Sardinian issue and the worker movement. The first set of objects and heirlooms from the Gramsci family in Moscow and Ghilarza were collected along with documents on Sardinian independence.
In 1967, for the thirtieth anniversary of Gramsci’s death, an initiative by Umberto Cardia, politician and leader in the debate on Sardinian independence, spearheaded an effort to open the house to the public and make it a centre for the documentation and research on Gramsci’s work and the workers’ movement.
The idea of making the house into a museum, supported by Gramsci’s niece and nephew, Diddi and Mimma Paulesu – who, with their mother, Teresina (Antonio’s sister), were the tireless keepers of Gramsci’s memory in Ghilarza – garnered the support of many politicians and intellectuals from various sources, including anthropologist Michelangelo Pira, an important figure in late twentieth-century Sardinian culture, known for his studies of Sardinian language and identity, and archaeologist Giovanni Lilliu, who discovered the village and Nuragic palace in Barumini, both recognised World Heritage sites.
In 1971, the house became a point of reference for a group of Milanese intellectuals who met at the Casa della cultura and at the Einaudi’s International Library. They founded the Friends of the Gramsci House of Ghilarza – Milan Centre Association, joined by leaders from the worlds of culture, trade unions, partisan associations and civil society inspired by democracy and antifascism; these included Giovanni Brambilla (trade unionist, later a senator), Paolo Grassi (commissioner of the La Scala Theatre, and the founder of the Piccolo Teatro of Milan with Giorgio Strehler) and Vando Aldovrandi (manager of the Einaudi International Bookshop in the Manzoni Gallery in Milan), who became its president and one of its most devoted and heartfelt promoters for more than a decade.
It was during those years that, thanks to the Friends of the Gramsci House of Ghilarza, the idea took hold of making the house into a real museum. Then the collection of items that had belonged to Gramsci and many layers of records were completed. The organisation of the museum and the exhibit were entrusted to architect and designer Cini Boeri and Gramsci scholar and researcher Elsa Fubini.
The House Museum had its grand opening on 27 April 1975.
The Gramsci House Records and Research Centre Association, founded in 1982, took over the management of the House Museum, making sure it was open to the public and handling the promotion of cultural initiatives until 1997, when it ceased its activity.
In 2000, management was taken over by the Antonio Gramsci House Museum and Records, Research and Museum Operations Association. The house was re-opened to the public and continues to be an engine for various cultural initiatives. The books collected over the years were catalogued and merged with the regional library system.
In 2014, the House Museum, by agreement with the Gramsci Foundation ONLUS and the International Gramsci Society, and the support of the Foundation of Sardinia, opened the Ghilarza Summer School. Established and directed by Gianni Francioni and Fabio Frosini, professors respectively at the Universities of Pavia and Urbino, this international school for Gramsci studies engages young researchers from around the world.
Since 2017, the House Museum has been managed by the Antonio Gramsci House Museum of Ghilarza Foundation. The founding members were the Enrico Berlinguer Foundation of Cagliari, the Gramsci Paulesu family, the City of Ghilarza and the Gramsci Foundation ONLUS of Rome.
Over time, the Gramsci House has become a cultural centre not only for Sardinians but for generations of volunteers devoted to promoting and spreading knowledge of the life and works of the one Italy’s greatest intellectuals, one of the most studied twentieth-century thinkers in the world.
The House has been visited over the years by residents, students, scholars, tourists, artists and famous political and cultural figures.