The treasures of the Alfa Romeo Museum

Alfa Romeo museum

Alfa Romeo boasts an illustrious history spanning 112 years and its museum in Italy houses many of its most treasured icons. We speak to Lorenzo Ardizio, the curator of the Alfa Romeo Museum and head of the company’s vast archive. 

Words: Wilhelm Lutjeharms

Lorenzo’s smile never once fades during our 25-minute interview. He has set up his computer in the “storage rooms”, where most of the collection is housed – clearly one of his favourite places in the building, or officially called Museo Storico Alfa Romeo.

“My passion started from an early age. I was born close to the Balocco circuit, the Alfa Romeo test track. I grew up hearing the race cars lapping on the track and I couldn’t avoid this pleasure. 

Alfa Romeo museum

“I started working at the company in 2006, but then I left for a while. I was requested back in 2014 by Sergio Marchionne when Alfa Romeo decided to refurbish and rebuild the museum. I was asked to curate the museum, handle the refurbishment and the new exhibitions and the various steps involved. 

The cars

“Maintaining and running the museum is divided into several parts. The collection currently stands at 287 vehicles as well as hundreds of other engines, equipment and trophies, for example. Another important part of the museum is the archive – which totals 6 000 metres of documents in terms of shelves – more than a lap of Monza! Obviously, each part must be managed in a different way. 

Alfa Romeo museum

“Speaking of the cars, we are managing them through our internal workshop and short test track. Our aim is to start all the running cars at least once a year. It is a difficult challenge, because as you can understand it is not an easy and quick job to start some of these cars. Keep in mind that often petrol, oil and cooling fluid must be added to the drivetrain before it can be started and the tyres must be deflated. Once a few laps have been done, this must all be reversed. 

Alfa Romeo Museum

“There is also the process of cleaning the cars. This is not done by a general cleaner, but by a coachbuilder. It is not just about cleaning the car, but also treating the interior, be it treating the leather and wood or oiling certain parts. This is our ordinary activity regarding the cars.

The archive

“The archive is a completely different world. It was refurbished for the new museum. It received a new building and we re-organised the documents. Although it is not visible to the public, for me it is the real core of the museum.


“The archive is accessible in different ways. On one side we provide a service to collectors such as information about their cars like the production date and original colour, for example. We call this a certificate of origin with the original data of the car. This is the entry-level work the archive delivers. 

Alfa Romeo Museum

“Secondly, providing information to media, historians and students about Alfa Romeo’s history, whether corporate or on its products. Thirdly, to allow researchers to come into the archive and study the documents themselves. We can reach an agreement regarding the project of the researcher, whether it is an university thesis or a book. We then prepare the documents related to the topic. In total we attend to around 10 000 requests per year. 

The collection

Alfa Romeo Museum

“In the past Alfa Romeo acquired some cars for the collection. In terms of the historical cars, the collection is viewed as being complete. It covers all the necessary cars from the various eras. Obviously, there are always some cars that you would like to add, but basically, we are satisfied with the collection. It doesn’t mean that the collection is closed.

"The collection is permanently growing as new (modern) cars are added to the collection. As the Alfa Romeo Museum, we must also preserve cars like the Giulia, Stelvio etc. So, it is the continuous feeding of cars and documents to the museum. Sometimes we also have donations, especially in terms of documents, be it someone retiring or offices begin moved as well as modern objects which will be part of our history in the future.

Alfa Romeo museum

“A museum is obviously not just a display – it is a living object. This means changing the exhibitions etc. When it comes to exhibiting private cars from collectors, I have an important rule that we will not exhibit a collection of cars from a single collector. We will, for example, arrange an exhibition on a certain topic, and then we can pick objects and cars from various collections. 

“Our workshop is able to do a variety of jobs, but the range of the collection is too big for them to be able to cover everything. We have cars and objects from 1910 to today, and it is impossible for a specialist to know everything. Some work we do internally, and some work is outsourced.”

Alfa Romeo Museum

A very interesting fact is that since 2011 the entire collection is protected by the Italian government in same way that monuments and art are. 

“There have been some personal highlights that I can never forget, for example driving a certain Alfa Romeo for the first time and the opening of the museum. But, the two best moments for me here have been the day we opened the collezione (storage rooms), creating an environment that is really magical as visitors can go in-depth into the history of Alfa Romeo. It is a place where every story is allowed to be told. 

Alfa Romeo museum

“The other moment was when the Italian state appreciated the work we’ve done in the archive. After all, the difference between a museum and a showroom is the archive. To know that the same authorities that oversee the museums in Florence is now involved in our archive is a genuinely special feeling.”

Visit the museum’s website here.

1 comment

  • When I was young I had two Alfa Spyders. Great cars👏👏👏👏👏

    Willem Mouton

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