Visit the Museo della Divina Commedia

The main exhibition of Dante’s Divine Comedy features permanently at 1 Coolatai Crescent, Bossley Park NSW 2176.

The Museum was created on the 700 Years of Dante’s passing in (1321-2021) and will continue to display new and exciting exhibitions after that date, featuring cultural, historical and artistic aspects of interest to the community. The museum single-entry fee is $5.50pp.

The unique treasures of the Museo della Divina Commedia:

Divine Comedy Museum welcomes Griffith’s translation

The Museum of the Divine Comedy in Bossley Park now hosts a copy of Sir William Samuel Griffith’s (21 June 1845 – 9 August 1920) translation of Dante’s literary masterpiece. The rare book, titled ‘The Divina Commedia of Dante Alighieri’ was completed by the first Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia in 1912.

“This is another great piece for our Dante exhibition. We are very excited to be able to hold such an important book that clearly traces a vibrant relationship between Dante and Australia,” said Giovanni Testa, President of CNA – Multicultural Services.

As one of Australia’s federalists, Sir Giffith’s italophilia was well-known to his contemporaries. He used his ‘leisure’ time to translate not only the Divine Comedy but also a series of love poems from Dante’s Vita Nuova. Griffith’s literary work demonstrates that Dante is not just for Italians. As Julius Braun, a Nineteenth Century German translator and scholar argues “he is too great to be the poet of only his nation. He belongs to the universe”.

“In 2021, CNA has launched its ‘Culturality’ framework, with the aim of promoting Italian culture beyond the migrant community. Multicultural Australia continues to adopt aspects of Italian culture and make them its own. This trend must be acknowledged and encouraged, and Dante’s anniversary is a great opportunity not to be missed,” said Giovanni Testa.

Griffith’s translation conveys the author’s legal mind, particularly when he claims in his preface that “a translation should present a true photograph of the original.” Sir Griffith’s proficiency in the Italian language began in his youth, as he travelled across Europe on a scholarship and devoted a portion of each day to study Italian.

“He speaks so modestly of his work in the preface that it seems almost ungracious to criticise it,” a reviewer of the time writes. Griffith’s correspondence often reveals how little satisfaction he obtained from his routine work as a lawyer; his Dante translation was one of his only consolations. Sir William’s translation was showcased as part of Dante 700 Week events on Wednesday 24 March’s online event titled “Reading Dante” by Gianna Di Genua and Marco Testa.

The Museum Collection:

To pay homage to Dante Alighieri’s literary and philosophical masterpiece 700 years after his death, a temporary museum dedicated to La Divina Commedia will be inaugurated on Friday 26 March 2021 at 6.30pm at the headquarters of CNA-Italian Australian Services located at 1 Coolatai Crescent in Bossley Park.

The exhibition will feature a replica collection of 115 framed miniatures created between 1444 and 1450 in northern Italy found in one of the finest medieval copies of La Divina Commedia commissioned by the King of Naples, Alfonso of Aragon, known as “il Magnanimo.” An important highlight of this manuscript consists in its being one of the few that fully illustrate all three parts of the Divine Comedy. Two master illuminators contributed to the manuscript: Lorenzo di Pietro, called “il Vecchietta”, author of all the initials and scenes of Hell and Purgatory, between the years 1442 and 1450, and Giovanni di Paolo, who in the decoration of Paradise translated into fabulous and unreal environments his absorbed spiritual dimension.

The museum will also display a bust of Dante Alighieri, Italian-English versions of the literary work as well as an original 1902 edition of the masterpiece decorated with postcards made at the end of the nineteenth century by the Italian painter Attilio Razzolini with the ancient technique of the miniature on parchment. Each postcard illustrates a cantica and offers a refined transcription in Gothic script. The book also includes three tables painted by Razzolini as preludes to Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso.

The museum exhibition will remain open until Tuesday 14 September 2021, the date of Dante’s death according to tradition. From Friday 26 March 2020, the first 100 adult visitors will receive a complementary paperback copy of La Divina Commedia.

President of CNA-Italian Australian Services Giovanni Testa acknowledged that the initiative is unique and timely. “2021 needs to be the year of the orgoglio italiano, delight in all things Italian, and this must begin with a love of Italian language and culture.” The museum of La Divina Commedia is open to all schools especially those teaching Italian and to the broader community as a resource for students and italophiles of all ages. Booking information for schools will soon be available from the organisation’s website or please contact (02) 8786 0888.

School Excursions

An excursion to the Museo della Divina Commedia will spark curiosity, develop greater cultural understanding and enhance awareness amongst your students about aspects of Italian and Western language, art, culture and much more. Our education team have developed a range of dedicated learning resources to help you and your students get the most out of your visit.

Please complete a School Excursion Booking Form to arrange your visit. For more information please contact or call (02) 8786 0888.

Flashback: Dante’s 700 Week Events

Monday 22 March, at 6.30pm, Club Marconi – “Alighieri Durante, detto Dante” with a forward commentary by Franco Baldi, publisher, journalist and Director of Allora! Italian Australian News. FREE EVENT.

Tuesday 23 March, at 6.30pm, CNA Multicultural Community Garden, 1 Coolatai Crescent, Bossley Park – “Dante: The Lecture”, on the life of the Poet. With Associate Lecturer Gianluca Alimeni. FREE EVENT.

Wednesday 24 March, 6.30pm, Online – “Reading Dante” with Marco Testa and Gianna Di Genua. Via the Marco Polo – The Italian School of Sydney Facebook page. FREE EVENT.

Dantedì, Thursday 25 March, 8.00pm – Casula Powerhouse Screening “La Solita Commedia – Inferno” (2015) (85 mins). In Italian with English Subtitles. FREE TICKETS must be booked from Casula Powerhouse.

Friday, 26 March, 6.30pm, CNA, Bossley Park – Official opening of the Museum of the Divine Comedy. FREE EVENT BY EOI due to square metre rule. Email for bookings.

Saturday 27 March, at 6.30pm, Casula Powerhouse, “A cena con Dante.” PAID EVENT. Tickets $70pp.

More information on the program contact (02) 8786 0888 during office hours.

Dante 700 National Events (by the Dante Alighieri Societies of Australia)

A series of presentations hosted by the Dante Alighieri Societies of Australia marked the 700th anniversary of the passing of Dante Alighieri. The series includes presentations from Canberra and virtually every state capital.

The series was addressed by a wide range of speakers including celebrated Australian poets and leading scholars in Dante studies and the Italian language in Australia. Details of speakers and the recordings of the presentations can be viewed by going to the website Dante Under the Southern Cross.

An ebook collection of papers and presentations made during the seminar series was also edited by Michael Curtotti and is available here.