In front of the entry of Nelson’s Ducea, there is a luxuriant park divided by a central boulevard through
centuries-old plane trees and eucalyptus (as first introduced in Sicily), which hosts a real museum “en plein air” of lava-stone sculptures.
The sculptures were realized directly in the park, from the 27th September to 7th October 1990, during an International Symposium of Sculpture in which the theme event was “The Freedom”, performed in the Castle of Nelson. The creator of this event was the strenuous teacher Nunzio Sciavarrello native of Bronte, that availed himself of the partnership of Ce.p.i.s. and Catania’s Institute of Art and Culture, with the sponsorship of the Sicily Region, Province and Municipality.
The symposium target was to establish the initial core for the constitution of the only “en plein air” Museum of modern sculptures in Sicily and to support the rebirth of the craft stonemasons which in the past left signs and forms of extraordinary beauty in the historic centre” (as affirmed by Senator Pino Firrarello that was the President of the organizing committee).
During the 10 days of the Symposium, under the watchful eyes of visitors, many sculptures were realized directly on the lawns in the middle of the lush vegetation of the Park, making use of big blocks of lava-stone coming from Nicolosi, Belpasso and Brontes’s mines.
The 19 sculptures all of various sizes and different expressive character were realized, both by Italian and foreign artists considered to be the most successful and well-known ones. On the occasion of such event many visitors coming from different places had the opportunity to appreciate works realized by Italian and foreign sculptors who now reached a level of fame that goes beyond national and international borders.
On May 2004, the sculptures were relocated in a different form of exhibition; with a new system of lighting for night fruition. Some works (for example “the butterfly” a smoothed basalt by Giuseppe Pravato), were placed in the new “Etna Museum of lava-stone, artisan and agricultural traditions” opened in the same month.
The place where the event took place was the Castle of Nelson an historical complex of considerable dimensions characterized by the presence of the Santa Maria Abbey, inside its perimeter there are layered walls that date back to 1040. The original plant of the church promoted by the byzantine general officer Giorgio Maniace , was integrated, expanded and restructured in different historical moments.
The creation of the convent was on 1173, wanted by the queen Margherita of Navarra. The abbey in the XIX century was converted in noble castle by the English Admiral Oratio Nelson that at the end of the XVIII century received it as a gift by the King of Naples togetherwith the title of Duke of Bronte in reward of the help that he offered in the suppression of Neapolitan revolts. Subsequently, the architectural complex, with related lande, was inherited by the viscounts of Bridport and on the 4th of September 1981 it was purchased by the City of Bronte.
The first core of the Museum was created in the area of the park in front of the nineteenth-century building in which there are 18 of the 19 works realized during the event. Their position is “en- plein- air” to respect a plastic-formal plan that considered the environmental balance of the place.