Who owns our heritage? What are museums for?
The people. WE own it. And if we are not part of institutions like libraries, museums, archaeological sites and historical monuments which hold our past, well, that IS a big, big waste.
Last week I flew back home for a few days, and I decided to go visit our lovely Pinacoteca in Bari. Which, by the way, may be the same thing as the “Pinacoteca Corrado Giaquinto”, as I learned on the MIBAC’s website (Italy’s Ministero dei Beni e delle Attività Culturali).
Beautiful copy of the Olifante, XI century
Yes. Our lovely Ministero oversees almost everything of some of the most beautiful cultural sites in Italy. And that’s why they’re pretty much DEAD.
Sant’Andrea Apostolo, by an Apulian fresco painter (XIII century)
On a sunny day by the Lungomare, it was noon on a Wednesday, NO ONE, not even a single: local worker on a lunch break, tourist, protestant, manifestant… No one was at the Pinacoteca at the same time as me. I was the only visitor in the space.
It was EMPTY around me and I cannot wrap my head around this! It just doesn’t make sense to me! How is that possible? What are they doing, or most likely, what are they NOT doing? What are museums for?
Museums, again, are for the people. And museums have the responsibility to make sure people come! How? By offering lively programs and opportunities for them to learn and have fun. Otherwise, it is all a waste of time and resources.
Well, let me tell you, first of all, it was HARD to find the Pinacoteca. There’s not one sign on the streets giving directions to it. Which, naturally being made for the people, wants to be found…
And, let me tell you something else. This is more than common in my home country of Italy. Many museums are made for themselves and not for the people. Sadly, I found the Pinacoteca dead, not alive, not lively. Stunning art… but for whom?
Museums usually rejuvenate me, but I left this one depressed. Such a waste of time and resources to make all this beauty for NO ONE. How can they allow such a beautiful place like the Pinacoteca to be EMPTY?
There’s even a Bellini in one room. I’m sure even he knows that art should be made fun and entertaining to make people want to come BACK.
The Pinacoteca is located in a great historical building, by the sea, with a great collection which is made accessible by paying the modest fee of 3 euros. What is the problem then? Why people who can appreciate it is the only thing missing?
A conference room?
Although they had no brochures, no fliers to let us learn about the history of the collections, they somehow made the corner of a room a “museum store”. Take a look…
Exit through the store
And look at the view from one of the museum windows… Stunning.
Luckily it was sunny out and I could breathe the familiar sea. It was a bitter goodbye.
I say all this because I love my country… and I’m sad for it.