Appeal for the Giuliano Briganti Library at the museum complex of Santa Maria della Scala, Siena

An appeal to demand the reinstatement of Azelia Batazzi and Katiuscia Girolami at the Giuliano Briganti Library, Santa Maria della Scala museum complex, Siena

Following the placement of librarian as well as art historian Azelia Batazzi and secretary Katiuscia Girolami on layoff, the Giuliano Briganti library in Siena, housed in the premises of the Santa Maria della Scala complex in Siena, has had its opening hours drastically reduced and to date its future is uncertain. We publish below the appeal, promoted by Giulio Burresi and signed by a number of important personalities in art history (and to which, of course, we at Finestre sull’Arte have also adhered), calling for the reinstatement of the two librarians, as well as certainty about the future of this important cultural institution. Here is the text of the appeal.


As of Monday, Oct. 1, the Giuliano Briganti Library, located in the museum complex of the Spedale di Santa Maria della Scala, has lost both librarian and art historian Azelia Batazzi and secretary Katiuscia Girolami. Both are on layoff and will no longer be able to work.

They are two extraordinary figures of cultural workers. A point of reference for students and scholars, they had created a small cenacle in Siena with their helpfulness, kindness, and elegance. Prodigal in their advice to the younger ones, attentive to the needs of the more astute scholars, they tried to work in the shadows, in silence, with little funds. We can testify that beautiful friendships among students were born in the bright, scenic rooms of the library because of the beautiful atmosphere they were able to create.

Letics of study, intellectual honesty, and respect for Article 9 of the Constitution were constantly affirmed in Giuliano Briganti’s library, and those who had the good fortune to know the art historian, at the center of the art-historical culture of the twentieth century and the students of Roberto Longhi, are aware of how generous he was with young people. Azelia Batazzi and Katiuscia Girolami have attempted to continue the spirit and intent of his thought.

Today the extraordinary adventure of the Briganti Fund, strongly desired as a purchase by Monte dei Paschi di Siena dallex alderman Marina Romiti several years ago now, draws to a close.

The library patrimony is no longer controlled by Azelia Batazzi nor by Katiuscia Girolami but by two photo librarians who, although courteous, helpful and attentive, have a different task, the preservation and protection of the photographic patrimony, and we imagine that they will be overworked.

We are not unionists nor do we claim to be. We care about the artwork, the rustling of books, the sweet sound of the ink running across the paper of our notebooks, the manuscripts to be unwrapped, the photographs to be filed and stored in the drawer.

We know well the sacrifice of research but we believe in the highest values of Humanism, understood as the study of the behaviors of the human being.

Art history is the daughter of man, it is the basis of the civic education of the good citizen, it is the source of respect for the landscape, for history, for the noble values of study and the Constitution of the Italian Republic.

We do not like to perform, to the mass media circus we prefer the silence of museums, churches, archives, libraries, photo libraries.

Nonetheless, we demand respect from the institutions. On the other hand, not only has Giuliano Briganti’s fund suffered a staff cut that threatens its survival but also a reduction in opening hours.

If until recently the library was open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, on Fridays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., today the fund is open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., in the afternoons by appointment only.

We imagine the inconvenience for students and scholars living outside Siena.

We have no claims nor do we make claims. We are simply free citizens, not tied to any party, we love art history and culture.

We hope that the institutions will listen to our voice, that Azelia Batazzi and Katiuscia Girolami will return to their workplaces, serene and industrious as they once were.

This does not invalidate the ethical value and competence of the two photo librarians who continue to keep the fund open, far from it. We are only strongly concerned that they too will suffer the same fate as the two cultural workers who can no longer work today.

Quite simply, we love research.

Florence, Oct. 10, 2012, Marucelliana Library reading room.

Promoter: Giulio Burresi, student, Siena.

First signers:
Paola Barocchi, professor emeritus, Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa.
Alberto Cornice, art historian, Accademia degli Intronati, Siena.
Salvatore Settis, archaeologist and art historian, Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa.
Tomaso Montanari, art historian, University of Federico II, Naples.
Lisa Miele, art historian, Naples.

To join the appeal: write an e-mail to

Specify: first name, last name, current professional position, institution of reference if any, city.

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