Treviso: a museum turned upside down and more than a million euros for the needs of a Goldin exhibition

In Treviso, the St. Catherine Museum is being turned upside down to adapt it to the needs of a 'major exhibition'. Which will be organized by Marco Goldin.

While the world of art history (including us) debates even animatedly about Marco Goldin’s exhibitionrapanettone going on in Vicenza, much more disturbing but equally Goldin-like events are taking place a few kilometers away, namely in Treviso. Vicissitudes that so far have not interested the national debate, and have been discussed (however, very little) only at the local level: yet what is happening in Treviso has much to make the whole country reflect.

What is happening, in fact, is that, with a resolution approved on December 19, the City of Treviso gave the go-ahead to renovation work on the Santa Caterina museum complex, which houses one of the venetian city’s civic museum branches: in particular, the complex includes the section devoted to archaeology, the one housing the medieval, renaissance and modern art gallery, and the former church of Santa Caterina with its frescoes. The work on the complex will have an impact, on the city’s coffers, of more than one million euros.

What is the purpose of these works? The St. Catherine’s complex, opened as a museum venue in 2003, does not need modernization as the structure is in excellent health. We learn the purpose of this “redevelopment” from the pages of the Treviso Tribune, which talked about the project a few days before its opening, writing that the purpose of the work is to “adapt the rooms of the former convent to a thick exhibition.” And by whom will this “exhibition of depth” be organized? But by Goldin, of course: as we learn from the same article, the contract between the City Council and Linea d’Ombra, Goldin’s company, is being discussed: although the terms are not yet known to the public, only the signature would be missing.

Treviso, il Complesso di Santa Caterina
Treviso, the Santa Caterina Complex. Photo credit.

But what will these works mean for the works currently housed in the Santa Caterina complex, and what will be the fate of the institution? Although we are still moving in the realm of hypotheses, Alessandro Gnocchi, a Treviso city councilor with the mixed group, explains it to us in an article on his blog. In order to ensure enough rooms to accommodate Goldin’s exhibitions, the museum’s lecture hall and conference room will be lost, part of the archaeological section will be closed to the public, the rooms of the twentieth-century art collection will be emptied, and many of the gallery’s works will be transferred to the Bailo Museum, which will probably be reopened in the fall after years of renovations, and to which the works of the medieval, Renaissance and modern art gallery will have to be allocated. So, in order to allow Goldin to organize his exhibitions in a suitable space, in the meantime works will be piled up in an unsuitable place.Alessandro Gnocchi informs us that the Bailo Museum is not yet equipped with suitable conservation systems for the works. The move from St. Catherine’s to the Bailo, as PD city councilor Daniela Zanussi writes on her Facebook page, was planned further down the road, and will instead have to be brought forward to allow for works at St. Catherine’s. In addition, two rooms where culture and participation are produced will be put to other uses, and many works will end up in storage. And it is a good thing that, with regard to this last point, the policy hopes for the reverse operation: moreover, in the redevelopment project there is no provision for work on the Santa Caterina storage rooms which, as Alessandro Gnocchi still says, have problems of infiltration. A problem, that of infiltrations, which moreover is a long-standing one and needed, this yes, a resolution.

And all this when the city of Treviso already has a space suitable for hosting major exhibitions, and which had already been used in the past also by Goldin himself: it is Ca’ dei Carraresi, a historic building recently built as an exhibition venue, owned by the Cassamarca Foundation. And it was precisely the Cassamarca Foundation that had launched Goldin a decade ago. And right at Ca’ dei Carraresi. Then, in 2003, we witnessed the divorce between Goldin and Cassamarca: the relationship ended due to"non-compliance with the rules," and rumors say that this happened because Cassamarca demanded exclusivity from Goldin, but the latter allegedly gave his willingness to organize exhibitions at exhibition venues not managed by the Foundation. Such frictions seem not to have died down yet, since this summer Cassamarca Foundation president Dino De Poli told Corriere del Veneto that Goldin “is free to do what he wants, here, but not by me. We came into conflict years ago and in fact he disappeared from Treviso.” But there is more to Treviso than Ca’ dei Carraresi: the works that have been affecting the Bailo Museum for years and are due to be completed this year include exhibition spaces for temporary exhibitions in the newfound Treviso civic museum. Why, then, turn the St. Catherine’s museum upside down when the city is about to get new exhibition spaces?

Goldin defends himself by saying that the works represent an investment for the city. But a municipality should invest in such important works if a project (museological, cultural, tourist) is planned for the medium to long term: for now, in fact, the only hypothesized exhibition is Goldin’s, as far as we know. Which, moreover, does not yet have a defined project, since the curator has changed what was the initial idea in the running. In short: without planning, the risk is to have a space that will remain empty after the Goldin exhibition. One might then wonder why having to make public property, that is, that belongs to all citizens, submit to the logic of private individuals, without even an assessment of the spin-offs having been made. In fact, the revenues of the exhibition will all be forfeited by Goldin’s company, and there are no forecasts of what the spin-off will be in the city. If then the opening of the Bailo Museum were to slip (we understand that as of today there are still no certain dates), there is a serious risk that Treviso could be deprived, for an undefined time, of a good part of its artistic heritage. Finally, it is unclear what will be the fate of the artworks and municipal employees on the museum’s payroll. In short: there is to be on the alert, although the project seems already well underway and it will not be easy to revise it.

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