Paolo and Ornella Ricca

La foto ritrae i coniugi di Cosenza Paolo e Ornella Ricca

The MUDESC was born thanks to the first, important donation made to the University by the spouses of Cosenza Paolo and Ornella Ricca, to whom the museum is entitled.


Paolo Ricca was born on April 20, 1935 in the city of Cosenza. During his university studies, he enters the Cassa di Risparmio di Calabria e Lucania through a competition, thus starting a long career that will lead him to become deputy general manager of CARICAL. Ornella Ricca (née Meringolo) was born in San Lucido, in the province of Cosenza, on 23 January 1935. In 1958 she graduated in Classical Literature at the «Federico II» University of Naples, and then entered the world of school where she will remain for thirty-seven years .

Paolo and Ornella met on the school benches at the gymnasium: they got married in 1961 and had two children: Giulio and Vincenzo. The partnership between the two is very strong and, together, they founded (with Paolo’s brother, Raffaele) the cultural association “The green living room” which will promote exhibitions, conferences and cultural meetings on various themes. During the preparation of one of these initiatives Paolo decides to look for his first grade book and starts attending antique markets looking for school items. This research will lead him and Ornella to create one of the largest private collections of school objects in our country, which will be exhibited in Cosenza, Corigliano Calabro, Amantea, Castrovillari, Bracciano and Brescia and, finally, in Macerata and Civitanova Marche.

The exhibitions «Between benches and notebooks» (Macerata, Galleria Antichi Forni, 27 September-27 October 2007) and «Between the school benches. Italian school life between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries» (Civitanova Alta, ex-classical high school, 10 July-September 2009). On these two occasions, Paolo and Ornella decided to entrust their collection to the University of Macerata for the creation of a permanent exhibition annexed to the Documentation and Research Center on the history of school books and children’s literature. From this project the Museum of the «Paolo and Ornella Ricca» School of Macerata will be born in 2010.

After a life entirely dedicated to the promotion of culture, Paolo Ricca passed away on 31 December 2015. Ornella Ricca now lives in Rome surrounded by the affection of her large family. She continues to actively follow the activities of her Museum remotely, through the use of social networks.