The Park of Knowledge – Mirabella

The Parco dei Saperi is located in Mirabella Imbaccari in the historical Palazzo dei Principi Biscari Paternò, who donated it to the Dorothean nuns, with the aim of making it the socio-economic centre, the ‘common good’ of the area.

The nuns, in keeping with the mandate received, implemented training courses on bobbin lace making that involved all the women of the village. For many decades thereafter, the area’s economy was centred on agriculture and the production of women’s bobbin lace, which has become world-famous.

Globalisation phenomena and the mechanisation of production processes have rendered both of these economic sectors uncompetitive in traditional organisational forms. The Dorothean Sisters, wishing to honour the will of the Princes, chose to donate the noble complex to the Community Foundation in 2014, asking the Foundation to contribute to making the Palace a ‘common good’ propeller of human development of the territory.

The project, which is highly experimental, aims to promote evolved forms of community welfare intertwined with productive experiences of social and solidarity-based economy, in an inland area, paradigmatic of many areas in the south, with irreversible demographic decline.

The monumental complex has been completely renovated by the Foundation and reorganised into several strongly interrelated areas:

  • The area of knowledge, training and research is divided into a residential campus and an archive system organised in the Palace’s ancient stables. The campus is home to the national and international courses of the Euro-Mediterranean School of Responsible Economics of Beauty and Peace; the Summer School of Contemporary Art Restoration and Conservation; and an ICT research and innovation centre;
  • The area of know-how is divided into workshops on bobbin lace. The Park’s action is to attract creative talents in order to connect these traditional craft productions with the most advanced international design experiences and research;
  • The area of relationship knowledge is articulated in highly innovative educational paths and in spaces open to creativity and socialisation in the area.

In the Park they are currently developing:

the realisation of an artistic-divulgative journey of the philosophy of knowledge that recounts the paradigmatic leap of cultures, techniques and physical sciences between modernity and post-modernity, curated by Gianfranco Anastasio.

An archive in the former stables, which alongside the historical documents of mafia events since the massacre of Portella della Ginestra preserves and exhibits the historical collection connected with lace-making. The Foundation’s contemporary art collection is not on display at MACHO and opens up to the world with the forthcoming exhibition of the collection of old clothes from around the world donated by Martina Corgnati.

A project of advanced training and accompaniment to the (re)design of women’s bobbin lace work to bring a contemporary, artistic and design vision, capable of reinterpreting tradition with original objects adapted to contemporary markets. Designers, artists, craftspeople, creative enterprises are collaborating to investigate together the possible connections between traditional lace-making and other supply chains (such as the goldsmith’s art of filigree, fashion, interior design), transferring the sense of more expendable skills and a greater self-awareness of the inseparable link between tradition and innovation. The aim is to give birth, from this generative encounter, to a large co-design workshop to test new hypotheses for the bobbin lace industry capable of:

  • educating adults and young people, linking different generations;
  • promote personal and community empowerment and foster processes to attract and retain creative talents, part of a welcoming community and territory;
  • support sustainable and socially, environmentally and culturally responsible behaviour.

Local experiences of The Parks of Beauty and Science


Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or EISMEA. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.

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