Motivated by a recent discussion on The Votives Project Facebook page, we’ve started to compile a list of places where votives can be seen today. Hours of opening are correct at the time of writing, but we advise double-checking before you arrange your visit.
We welcome your suggestions for additions to this list! You can add comments in the Facebook group, or email us directly at the addresses on our Open University webpages (links via the About Us page).
St Joseph’s Oratory The votive chapel contains displays of canes, crutches and other objects that were left behind by pilgrims during the lifetime of the shrine’s founder, Saint André Bessette (1845-1937).
Votives can be found in countless Catholic churches around Italy – silver body parts are particularly common, and are often found hanging near to the altar, or near statues in side chapels. The following list (in progress) mentions churches with larger collections of ex-votos, as well as museums with significant collections of Roman and Etruscan votives (again, these are common finds in many archaeological museums, especially in central Italy).
Fondazione Per Grazie Ricevute. A foundation dedicated to the study of painted ex votos, which organises regular thematic exhibitions. Address: Casa del Manzoni, Via G. Morone 1, Milan. Open Tuesday – Friday 11am-6pm, Saturday 2-6pm. TVP Posts about Fondazione PGR: Our Daily Bread, An exhibition of ex votos in Milan, and A new exhibition of votives from Mexico.
Naples and environs
Sanctuary of the Madonna dell’Arco. A Catholic sanctuary in the town of Sant’Anastasia near Naples – painted votive tavolette are displayed on the interior walls. TVP posts about Madonna dell’Arco: Ex votos at the sanctuary of the Madonna dell’Arco, The Festival of the Madonna dell’Arco.
Chiesa del il Gesù Nuovo. A Catholic church in the centre of Naples. Countless metal anatomical votives can be found in the hallway behind the left wing of the church. Address: Piazza del Gesù Nuovo, 2, 80134 Napoli NA.
Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli. Archaeological museum with lots of finds from major sites in the bay of Naples, like Pompeii and Herculaneum. In the ‘Secret Cabinet’ there is a collection of reproductive anatomical votives including breasts, uteri and penises. Address: Piazza Museo, 19, 80135 Napoli NA. Open: Wednesday – Monday, 9 am – 7.30 pm.
Museo Archeologico di Campi Flegrei Baiae. This museum, situated in the Castello Aragonese, houses the finds from archaeological sites in the Phlegraean Fields, among which there are ancient votives. Address: Via Castello, 39, 80070 Bacoli NA. Open: Tuesday – Sunday 9 am – 2.30 pm (ticket office closes at 1 pm).
Museo delle Navi Romane Nemi. Apart from the Caligula ships, this museum also displays votives from the sanctuaries in Nemi, Genzano/Lanuvium (Pantanacci), Area Albana and Velletri. Address: Via del Tempio di Diana, 13, 00074 Nemi RM. Open: daily, 9 am – 7 pm.
Museo Archeologico Nazionale Prenestino. The archaeological museum in Palazzo Colonna Barberini houses the collection of finds from ancient Palestrina, including the famous Nile mosaic and numerous votives from sanctuaries in its environment. Address: Via Barberini, 22, 00036 Palestrina RM. Open: daily, but times vary through the seasons.
Museo Nazionale Etrusco di Villa Giulia. A museum dedicated to displays from Etruscan sites in central Italy, including votive material from Vulci, Veii and Falerii. Address: piazzale di Villa Giulia 9, 00196 Rome. Open Tuesday – Sunday 9am-8pm (ticket office closes at 7pm).
Museo Nazionale Romano Terme di Diocleziano. Museum dedicated largely to epigraphy but with a good number of votives and related material from the Tiber (Rome), Norba, Ariccia, Praeneste (Palestrina) and Lavinium. Address: Via Sant’Apollinare 8, 00186, Rome. Open Tuesday – Sunday 9am-7.30pm (ticket office closes at 6.30pm).
Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Taranto (MARTA). Home to numerous votives found in ancient Apulia and its surroundings, among others dozens of Hellenistic Tanagra figurines. Address: Via Cavour, 10, 74123 Taranto TA.Open: daily, 8.30 am – 7.30 pm (on Sundays – except the first Sunday of the month – siesta from 1 – 3.30 pm).
The National Archaeological Museum of Tarquinia. Showcasing the remarkable finds from the Etruscan city of Tarquinia, including votive material from the Ara della Regina temple and the port at Gravisca. The painted tombs in the necropolis are also worth a visit. Museum address: Palazzo Vitelleschi, Piazza Cavour, Tarquinia (Viterbo). Open Tuesday – Sunday 8.30am-7.30pm.