The Museo Nazionale di Villa Guinigi is housed in one of the most ancient and prestigious palaces of the city, built as a “pleasure palace” for Paolo Guinigi, ruler of Lucca until 1430.
The construction of this solid-looking late-Gothic bulding began in 1413 and was carried out by northern-Italian workers, probably from Emilia. It is characterized by a massive brick structure that is made lighter and airier by the two communicating loggias on the ground floor and the succession of elegant triple lancet windows all along the main facade.
Following Paolo Guinigi’s death, the building was confiscated by the General Council of the Republic, and sold. Since then, the building was used for the most diverse and improper purposes, therefore suffering several damages and invasive interventions. Only in 1924 was the Villa chosen as the location for a museum meant to house the collection that, until then, was deposited in the Palazzo Pubblico; it then underwent several restoration works, until in 1948 it was donated to the State who carried out a more organized preservation campaign and, at the same time, rearranged the collection that was subsequently distributed between the Villa itself and the Museo Nazionale di Palazzo Mansi.