The museum is the local branch of the Perugia – Città della Pieve Archdiocese Museum Group. It was established in collaboration with the Umbria Artistic and Historical Heritage Society, with the aim of promoting and safeguarding objects and memories relating to the history of the local community, in accordance with the wishes of Don Aldo Rossi, as set down in 1994.
The museum is situated inside the old San Giuseppe church. The recently restored church has gone by various names over the centuries, including the Santa Maria della Concezione church, or simply the “inside church”, referring to its location within the old town walls. The church’s Concezione shrine houses the Madonna delle Grazie banner, painted by Benedetto Bonfigli in around 1470. The intriguing banner depicts the Madonna protecting the people of Paciano from the plague, represented by arrows flung down by an uncharacteristically wrathful Christ.
Along the aisle there are wooden statues depicting: San Giuseppe (17th century); two Addoloratas (17th and 18th century); a Vergine del Rosario, with real hair (17th century); and a Natività (18th century). There is also a baby Jesus, known as dell’Aracoeli, in painted wax. The series of votive frescoes (15th century – two of them bear the dates 1444 and 1449) on the walls of the church, depicting saints and a Maestà, were revealed following restoration work carried out in 2000. There is a Crucifixion from the Bologna School (mid 18th century) above an altar.
The presbytery is framed by two neoclassical columns. There are 17th and 18th century reliefs (an Angelo, an Ecce Homo, a Testa di Cristo and an Immacolata). There is a statue of San Giuseppe in a niche on the main altar. A series of exhibition cases contain valuable 16th and 18th century ecclesiastical items, including crosses, ostensoriums, goblets, pixes, plates, censers, reliquaries, tabernacles, altar cards, candelabras and candlesticks. Three of the goblets date back to the 16th century (one is dated 1591). Visitors can admire the Sposalizio della Vergine, a painting by Francesco Appiani (1704-1792), exhibited here in its original setting. Moving up to the mezzanine floor there is a room exhibiting archaeological finds unearthed after the Second World War near the archaeological ruins of Fonteboccio. In the next room some of the oldest and most significant vestments of the territory are on display. A small doorway opens into the old bell tower and back into the main church, where there is a magnificent organ dating back to 1795, built by the acclaimed Perugia organ maker Adamo Rossi.