The Davia Bargellini palace in Strada Maggiore, housing the museum with the same name, is one of the major non-institutional buildings of Bologna for its size and loftiness of structure. The building of the palace, commissioned by Camillo Bargellini, started in 1638, according to a project by architect Bartolomeo Provaglia, and was completed after twenty years by master mason Antonio Uri.
In 1839 the palace was bequeathed to a line of the Davia, another distinguished Bolognese family residing in the palace until 1874. The façade without porch - as was often the case for Senatorial buildings - is sharply designed and spaced with great simplicity by windows with out-jutting cornice and tympanum.
The severe and sober taste is animated by the unusual portal surrounded by two big telamones (the 'giants', popularly identifying and naming the building), which were completed in 1658 by Gabriele Brunelli (Alessandro Algardi's pupil) and his helper Francesco Agnesini, using four huge masegne blocks, the sandstone from the upper Bolognese Apennines.
The grand airy Baroque staircase leading to the first floor was added during a later - also functional - reorganisation of the interiors, with the participation of two of the most important architects of the time, Carlo Francesco Dotti and Alfonso Torregiani; the version made around 1730 is perhaps the result of a re-styling commissioned by Vincenzo Bargellini himself.
The rooms housing the museum also echo the Baroque taste with their pleasant corner stuccoes of the mouldings and friezes in the fireplace, but as always with great restraint and severity, in accordance with the dominating feature of the building.