Archive for April, 2012

Italian economic woes result in cultural heritage crisis

April 30, 2012

The culture and heritage minister of Italy began discussions last week that could force Italy’s national contemporary art museum to close its doors. The Maxxi, designed by Zaha Hadid, just opened those doors only two years ago. A €800,000  (over $1,000,000) gap in the museum’s accounts, along with a prediction that losses could grow to €11m in three years, prompted the minister’s actions.
[Source: The Guardian, April 24 2012]
The Maxxi is not flailing alone in this financial quagmire. Earlier this year, UNESCO accused the Italian government of failing to maintain the archaeological site of Pompeii.  In 2010, the House of Gladiators collapsed leaving a pile of debris and a vote of no confidence in the Italian Parliament for then Culture Minister Sandro Bondi. After relentless criticism and negative attention, the Italian government and the EU launched a a project (amounting to €105m) earlier this month to save Pompeii. Italia Nostra, a group fighting to preserve Italy’s cultural heritage, called the project a “great start” but noted that twice the amount of funding is needed to properly maintain the site.
[Source: BBC News, April 20 2012]
At the Casoria Contemporary Art Museum in Naples, the museum director has declared an “Art War.” The Casoria has started burning its artworks because of government indifference. Museum director Antonion Manfredi set fire to the first of 1,000 paintings on Tuesday in protest of government austerity measures that are taking an enormous toll on cultural institutions. The painting set on fire was by French artist Severine Bourguignon who supports the protest and watched the event online. “The survival of the museum is such an important cause that it justifies the despicable, and painful, act of destroying a work of art,” she told the BBC.
[Source: BBC News, April 20 2012]