The Inauguration of the First Statue of Dr. Maria Montessori in Perugia, Italy
Maria Montessori is a global icon. She was a trailblazer whose philosophy and activism remain relevant around the world even today. To honor her lifelong work and achievements, Piazza Maria Montessori in Perugia, Italy was dedicated in October 2021 as part of the redevelopment project by architect, sculptor, and former Montessori student, Matteo Ferroni.
The goal of the project was to enhance and internationalize the Montessori legacy of Perugia, beginning with the restoration of the observation classroom created by Montessori in 1950 at Santa Croce School and the creation of a study center and open air classroom named after Maria Montessori. The space was designed as a place for people to meet and play, especially children. As part of Ferroni’s work on the project, he designed and built the first sculptural representation of Montessori in the world. The statue looks over the plaza, serving as a reminder to all who visit of Maria Montessori’s neverending influence.
Ferroni’s vision was to create a dynamic sculpture that would be inviting to children, a figure that would literally and figuratively watch over the space. He states:
“Beyond the icon, I designed a monument to play with, to climb on, and to be fond of. Day by day children are exploring mutual aid, charging this monument with meanings and turning it [into] a landmark of the neighborhood.”
With the support of city authorities and the American Montessori Society (AMS), Ferroni was able to commission the making of the statue to a sculpture workshop in Carrara where the finest marble in the world is extracted and worked.
“As a global organization, it was an honor to support this project and to be able to attend the unveiling of the space,” said Munir Shivji, AMS executive director.
In reflecting on Ferroni’s creation, Gina Lofquist, AMS senior director of education and strategies initiatives, states, “Matteo Ferroni captured her very well, the statue is a beautiful representation of Montessori and her vision—both are beautiful and quite complex.”
Shivji and Lofquist met with Andrea Romizi, the mayor of Perugia and Valerio De Cesaris, the dean of the University for Foreigners of Perugia, prior to the inauguration to discuss Montessori history and collaborative professional development opportunities for the global Montessori community.
We are excited to bring one of these opportunities to Boston this Spring where AMS will have a display on Perugia at The Montessori Event 2023 including a 2-foot tall Maria Montessori statue replica of that which is found on Piazza Maria Montessori.
Nearly a year after the dedication of the square, Ferroni’s statue was inaugurated on the morning of September 14, 2022 in the presence of Romizi and the councilors for culture and civic services, along with other civil and military authorities. Elvira Businelli and Delfina Tomassini, students of Dr. Montessori at Università per Stranieri di Perugia in the summer of 1950, spoke at the ceremony. The unveiling emphasized the powerful legacy of Maria Montessori, noting how her influence is still alive today and must be continued through initiatives such as this.
1. Unveiling ceremony amongst global members of the Montessori community.
2. Ferroni's statue in Piazza Maria Montessori, Perugia, Italy.
3. Gina Lofquist, Munir Shivji, and Matteo Ferroni with Montessori's statue.
The AMS community was a notable contributor to the advancement of the project through generous donations and was also well represented at the inauguration. Shivji, Lofquist, and other AMS representatives witnessed the unveiling. Lynne Lawrence, the executive director of the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI), Alan Tschudin, president of AMI, and Judith Luman, director of Duhovka Montessori Teacher Education Program, were also in attendance.
Lofquist shares that her experience at the inauguration was truly transformational, stating, “I was inspired by the stories the Perugia community members had to offer and the conviction they have in bringing attention to the work of Montessori and her time in the Umbria region, Santa Croce, and the observation classroom. It was an honor to represent AMS and tell our story and show our gratitude for their efforts. We did not see the statue prior to the unveiling, so it was truly a magnificent surprise to all of us.”
About the Author
Heather White, EdS, is a Montessori in-home teacher and nanny, a Montessori educational consultant for the Andrew’s Institute, a Montessori educator for adult learners, and a volunteer moderator for the Montessori at Home 0 – 3 Facebook page. Formerly, she was a Montessori teacher, Lower Elementary coordinator, and associate head of school. She also has experience as a School Psychologist intern. She is AMS credentialed (Early Childhood, Elementary I). Contact her at email@example.com.
Interested in writing a guest post for our blog? Let us know!
The opinions expressed in Montessori Life are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the position of AMS.