Culture craving beats coronavirus: virtual tours, featured works, live streaming meetings

Many museums in Italy are responding to the coronavirus emergency with virtual tours, featured works, and live streaming.

There is a reality to be told about thecoronavirus emergency that is affecting Italy these days, unfortunately with unwarranted alarmism (although, in the last few hours, the impression is that the tones are finally softening and the media are beginning to realize that the psychosis risks doing more damage than the virus): it is the reality of those who, despite the closures, continue to do their work trying to make sure that everyday life can be as normal as possible even following the health ordinances issued by the regions. Alongside the invaluable work of doctors, nurses and health workers, who are engaged in the front line against the emergency, there is the work of those who are committed to making sure that everyday life does not come to a standstill: therefore, we like to recount the deserving experiences of those who, despite the closed museums, do not stop their activities (in fact, remember that the institutes are closed to visits, but employees continue to go to work regularly) and try to bring culture to the public.

Among the first to move, the workers of the Archaeological Museum of Venice, who opened the doors of the museum... to the virtual community, first in a humorous way with some nice cartoons, and then with a short Facebook live broadcast during which a museum guide illustrated a couple of rooms and some of the works preserved there. “As you know,” they wrote on their Facebook page, “the Archaeological Museum is closed in compliance with the order of the Ministry of Health and the Veneto Region, but the staff is present and working for you!!! We have washed our hands thoroughly, disinfected ourselves, tested our temperature... in short, we are fully equipped and are following the correct prophylaxis to avoid possible contagion. Since it is not possible to visit the museum, we therefore thought of making it usable, at least in part, with videos through social media.” But that’s not all: the museum continues its outreach by illustrating some important pieces of its collection with clear descriptions provided via social.

Streaming visits also at MAMbo in Bologna, which offers an interesting recipe for combating the emergency: the performance by Ragnar Kjartansson entitled Bonjour and part of the AGAINandAGAINand exhibition, which opened last January, is in fact broadcast live on YouTube at set times. It doesn’t end there: for “virtual visitors,” the Bologna institution has in fact also reserved a reduction on the ticket price and a small gadget (a MAMbo “pin”) for when the museum reopens.

Another good example is that of the Rivoli Castle, one of Italy’s leading contemporary art museums: the Piedmontese museum is also affected by the regional ordinance to close places of culture, and yesterday it was scheduled to open the exhibition Di fronte al collezionista. Uli Sigg’s Collection of Contemporary Chinese Art, which brought to the halls of the Castle the prestigious collection of Swiss entrepreneur and collector Uli Sigg (Lucerne, 1946), recognized as the most important in the world for contemporary Chinese art. Yesterday a meeting was scheduled with Uli Sigg himself, museum director Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, La Stampa art critic Giulia Zonca, exhibition curator Marcella Beccaria and renowned artist Ai Weiwei: the meeting, however, was neither postponed nor canceled, but was held behind closed doors and interested parties were able to follow it with a live broadcast on YouTube, and moreover, the video was later posted so that people could continue to watch it.

Then there is the Fabbrica EOS space in Milan, which from March 6 to April 18 is planning a solo exhibition New York, New Delhi, New Old by Sicilian artist Davide Bramante (Syracuse, 1970): Fabbrica EOS, being a private gallery, is not affected by the regional ordinance, but in spite of this, the opening has been brought forward to March 3, then on a weekday, to avoid overcrowding, and above all, the decision has been made to display a different work by the artist in the window each day, so that “passersby and fans can still view the works.”

In some regions, the emergency will end on March 1 (unless new ordinances are issued extending the current status). And it’s a safe bet that by that date, several more museums will be gearing up to cope with the situation. However you want to think about it, there is no doubt: the desire for culture is stronger than the coronavirus.

Pictured: a room in the Archaeological Museum of Venice.

Culture craving beats coronavirus: virtual tours, featured works, live streaming meetings
Culture craving beats coronavirus: virtual tours, featured works, live streaming meetings

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