Encyclopedic Palace/Palazzo Enciclopedico/Palacio Enciclopedico/Palais Encyclopédique or Monumento Nazionale. Progetto Enciclopedico Palazzo (U.S. patent no. 179,277)
Marino Auriti
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  • Encyclopedic Palace/Palazzo Enciclopedico/Palacio Enciclopedico/Palais Encyclopédique or Monumento Nazionale. Progetto Enciclopedico Palazzo (U.S. patent no. 179,277)
  • Marino Auriti (1891–1980)
  • Kennett Square, Pennsylvania
  • c. 1950s
  • Wood, plastic, glass, metal, hair combs, and model kit parts
  • American Folk Art Museum, gift of Colette Auriti Firmani in memory of Marino Auriti, 2002.35.1.
  • “This building is an entirely new concept in museums, designed to hold all the works of man in whatever field, discoveries made and those which may follow,” wrote Marino Auriti of his goals for his Il Encyclopedico Palazzo del Mondo, the “Encyclopedic Palace of the World.” One of two known architectural models made in the mid-twentieth century by this self-taught artist, Auriti’s was an audacious concept: to create a museum to house humankind’s greatest achievements, “everything from the wheel to the satellite.” This object exemplifies the bold singularity of many contemporary self-taught creators. Not hemmed in by the strictures of the art academy, artists like Auriti follow their individual visions.

    Born in Italy, Auriti came to the United States sometime between 1923 and the 1930s. He worked as an auto-body mechanic, but architecture was his great love. While Auriti’s concept is singular, the architectural plan for the Palazzo is rather classical. It is comprised of seven tiers of a lathe-turned skyscraper, made of mixed woods, metal, plastic (including hair combs), and celluloid, and topped by a television antennae. Transfer lettering on the lintel reflect Auriti’s values —“Forgive the First Time” and “Do Not Abuse Generosity.” A many-paged mission statement accompanies the palace, which is patented, exposing Auriti as a man who had the dreams of an architect and the soul of a philosopher. Upon retirement he started his serious endeavor building the palace. He acquired a patent, built a pyramid-shaped vitrine for his model, exhibited it twice (in a storefront and in a bank lobby), and received some press about it.

    This model took about three years to build and is on a scale of 1:200, which means that if it were actually built, the palace would stand 136 stories and 2,322 feet, which would have made it the tallest building in the world at the time Auriti imagined it. The artist wanted the Palazzo built on the Mall in Washington, D.C. The sculpture, however, was instead stored in a warehouse for several decades.

    Read more about the artist here.
  • Photo c. 1950s, American Folk Art Museum Archives