A Fellini museum, as lavish and as genius as his films. An immersive project celebrates one of Italy's most famous directors.

Federico Fellini is one of a select group of movie directors to have gotten an Oxford English Dictionary-sanctioned adjective : ''Felliniesque,'' which is defined as ''fantastic, bizarre; lavish, extravagant.''

That description could easily apply to the Fellini Museum, which opened in the Italian coast city of Rimini - the director's birthplace - last month : a multimedia project that draws visitors into Fellini's idiosyncratic cinematic universe.

The museum as at turns fantastic [pages from the so-called Book of Dreams, Fellini's drawings and musings on his nighttime reveries, appear on a wall when visitors blow on a feather]; lavish [it includes outlandish costumes from the liturgical fashion show in his 1972 film ''Roma''] ; and bizarre [what to make of a gigantic plush sculpture of the actress Anita Ekberg, which visitors can recline on to watch scenes from ''La Dolce Vita''?]

''We wanted a museum that would go beyond primary resources exhibited in showcases and allow the visitor to become an engaged spectator,'' said Marco Bertozzi, a professor of film at the Luav University of Venice, who curated the museum with the art historian Anna Villaari.

The museum occupies two historic buildings, with a large piazza in between, effectively reconfiguring a significant part of Rimini's downtown.

''It's an operation that changed the face of the city,'' said Marco Leonetti, one of the city officials who oversaw the project.

Along with the museum sites, the same square includes a theater bombed and destroyed in World War II, now meticulously reconstructed and opened in 2018, as well as a refurbished medieval building that was turned into a contemporary art museum, which opened a year ago.

''We're slowly rebuilding our city's memory,'' said Francesca Minak, an archaeologist and city tourism official.

Remini's administrators are hoping  the museum will attract both longtime Fellini aficionados and  those who were too young to see his films in movie theaters. They hope the latter group will be entertained by the installations and interactive screens [now on automatic mode because of the pandemic] that offer insights into Felini's rich imagination.

''The museum works as a sort of time machine,''' said Leonardo Sangiorgi, one of the founders of the Milan-based art collective Studio, which created the museum's multimedia displays, allowing spectators to savor the details and nuances of Fellini's films.

In the Castel Sismondo, a Renaissance-era castle that is one of the museum's buildings, installations featuring the people the director worked with and the places he captured in celluloid plunge visitors into Fellini-land.

One of the first rooms is dedicated to Fellini's wife, Giulietta Masina, who starred in ''La Strada'' [1956] and ''Nights of Cabiria'' [1957], movies that won back-t0-back Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film and brought Fellini into the international limelight.

Fellini went on to win two other Oscars in that category, for ''*8 1/2''  [1963 ] and ''Amarcord'' [1974], and Masina is the only person Fellini thanked by name in his acceptance speech at the 1993 Oscar's in an honorary award ''in recognition of his place as one of the screen's master storytellers,'' Fellini died seven months later, on Oct.31.

There are interactive panels, some memorabilia, including pages from music scores by Fellini's collaborator, Nino Rota, and a reconstruction of the director's library [with books by Georges Simmenon and Kafka but also Collodi's ''Pinocchio''].

There are photos galore and many clips from his films, obtained after long negotiations with the copyright owners.

If you had the patience and time, it would take around six hours to see them all, Bertozzi said.

The second venue is an 18th-century palazzo whose ground floor is occupied by the Fulgot Cinema, where Felini discovered cinema in his youth, Leonetti said, and later immortalized in ''Amarcord,'' Felini's coming-of-age montage of Fascist-era Rimini.

In an interview with the documentary ''Fellini : I'm a Born Liar,'' the director said the Rimini he had  ''completely reconstructed'' in ''Armacord'' belongs more to my life than the other, topographically accurate, Remini.''

Italia Nostra had proposed turning Castel Sismondo into a museum to showcase Rimin's hidden history, from its Roman past to its Renaissance heyday, in a way that would nurture ''a sense of community'' for residents, Bartolucci said. ''Instead, the Fellini Museum has canceled the name of the castle,'' he said.

Leonetti, the city official said, ''Putting armor into rooms isn't the only way to make a castle live,'' and added that the new piazza had supplanted a parking lot and downscale market.

In the few weeks since it was opened to the public, ''it's become a place where people gather,'' he said.

On a hot morning last week, several children splashed happily in the fountain, while their parents looked on. ''If the kids like it, then we got it right,'' Leonetti said.

The World Students Society thanks author Elisabetta Povoledo.


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