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The Clarence Bicknell Museum-library in Bordighera

The “Clarence Bicknell Museum-Library bears the name of its founder who had it built between 1886 and 1888 in Bordighera based upon the designs of the English architect Clarence Tait and Giovenale Gastaldi of San Remo.

When he reached the Riviera in 1878, Clarence Bicknell, born in Herne Hill, on the outskirts of London, on 27th October 1842, chose Bordighera as his adoptive town, carrying out in the Museum for over forty years  his passionate activity suspended between philanthropy and scientific research, between his love of nature and collecting.

Inside, the Museum  still shows many signs and suggestions of its founder: the two jars painted with the writings in Esperanto, statement of his love for unbounded men; a butterfly collection with many specimens from all over the Riviera, in the areas between Menton and Bordighera, but also exotic products from Ceylon, India, North and South America; the extraordinary herbarium which includes 49 units for a total of 11,216 sheets containing 2,000 dehydrated plant and flower specimens from the Riviera and the Maritime Alps. There are also casts, frottages and the first photos and drawings of the rock art of Mount Bego and the Vallée des Merveilles of which Bicknell supplied the first complete catalogue; his note-books with his botanical drawings which reveal his great scientific knowledge; a collection of archaeological findings recovered from the nearby Roman town of Albintimilium, currently Ventimiglia of which, in those days, the first ruins were being discovered and finally his book collection which includes, besides the many guides in English of the Riviera and the Côte d’Azur, an astounding naturalistic core which was the basis on which he built his studies of the local flora and fauna.

[Daniela Gandolfi]

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