Museum Evolution in Italy

I read this article this afternoon and I was really impressed with a couple of things…

  1. The cultural bureaucracy in Italy is shocking. As the article points out, special exhibitions have to be approved by a national cultural bureau. In turn, this discourages bringing any new or exciting exhibitions to institutions. Essentially, this has left cultural institutions stuck in a rut for the past several decades that makes museums dull and uninspiring to its visitors.
  2. To work around these restrictions, a new museum director created programming to fill the creative gaps that his art museum faced. For instance, labels were printed in both Italian and english in a large enough font that visitors can read from three meters away. In addition, he created kits for parents and children to use while going through the museum to experience art at the same time. This seemed really innovative as art museums are not often a place that children can interact easily with.
  3. Perhaps the most striking part of the article was that the museum director took the museums security guards (all 120!) out to lunch to hear their ideas. As Bradburne states “no one meets a curator when they visit a museum; they meet the guards. So the guards know what works. They’re anthropologists, and they love the museum.” This seemed like a fantastic idea because many times security guards are the only staff members that visitors see and interact with. I loved that the director took the time to understand the job and experiences of security guards.
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2 thoughts on “Museum Evolution in Italy

  1. I strongly agree with your third point. I think having the security guards share their ideas with the curators is a fabulous idea! When I was interning at the Wadsworth Atheneum of Art a few years ago the curators told me it was important to maintain a close relationship with all museum personnel, including those who worked in security and maintenance. Similar to what this article states, these curators told me, “It’s important to talk to all of the museum staff on a regular basis, because people on the security and maintenance staff see first-hand what is happening in the galleries during business hours.” I would like to see more museums get the entire staff involved when brainstorming ideas for exhibits and other projects.

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  2. This is a really interesting article! Since Italy is so rich with cultural history and artwork, it is hard to imagine that any museum, especially one as famous as the Uffizi, would have trouble getting visitors. I thought Sonya’s three points above were insightful points about the museum, but I also found it interesting that the director of the Pinacoteca di Brera, James Bradburne, brought up the size of the Uffizi. He explains how the size of the museum itself is much smaller than the Louvre and the British Museum, but these are the museums it is compared to for visitor counts. Although, the museum does need to boost the visitor count, I found it interesting that the building itself may be part of the problem. It made me think about our talk last night with Michael and Marian. I don’t remember who, but one of them spoke on the importance of catering your programs to the resources you have at the museum. The Louvre and the British Museum have space to plan bigger programs and events, but the Uffizi will have to be more careful deciding what is right for the space they have.

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