The Museo d’Arte contemporanea DonnaREgina (M.A.D.RE) stands in the historical heart of Naples, close to the Cathedral and the Treasure of St. Januarius, a hundred yards from the Museo Archeologico Nazionale and the Accademia di Belle Arti (Galleria d’Arte Moderna) with the ancient district of San Lorenzo.
The Museum owes its name to the building that houses it, the Palazzo Donnaregina, which stands next to the Monastery of S. Maria Donnaregina, founded by the Swabian dynasty (13th century) and then rebuilt and enlarged in 1325 by Queen Mary of Hungary, wife of Charles II of Anjou. Of the ancient monastic complex all that remains today are two churches: the church of S. Maria Donnaregina on Piazza Donnaregina, built in the baroque period, and the earlier church of S. Maria Donnaregina Vecchia, in Quattrocento Gothic, today open to the public during exhibitions and special events organized by the Museum.
In March 2003 the Italian Ministry for the Heritage and Cultural Activities and the Unified Conference of the Regional and Local Authorities signed a “Pact for Contemporary Art.” Its purpose was to foster the development of the public patrimony by creating a network of centers of excellence to promote contemporary art. Under its terms, in 2005 the Campania MADRE purchased Palazzo Donnaregina with funds from the European Community with the intention of creating the first Regional museum in Campania capable of being compared with other museums internationally. On June 10, 2005, the MADRE opened its new premises by inaugurating the site-specific installations on its first-floor rooms. This was followed in December 2005 by the inauguration of the historical collection housed on the second floor. In April 2006 the major anthological show devoted to Jannis Kounellis marked the opening to the public of the third-floor rooms designed for temporary exhibitions.