Museums closed, Brugnaro insists, "can we really not last without museums for a while?"

The mayor of Venice, Luigi Brugnaro, insists and defends the closure of the civic museums until April: "our museums live on tourists, there will be no crowds of Venetians, in this month we have given up everything, can't we also give up museums?"

The mayor of Venice, Luigi Brugnaro, returned to the subject of the closure of the civic museums until April 1, 2021, in an interview with the newspaper Il Gazzettino on January 6. A resounding decision that was taken, the first citizen further explained, for purely economic reasons, and a decision that the mayor vindicates: “it was whipped up,” said the usual blizzard from the usual internal union front, fueled then by the usual party that is eager to make motions, petitions, interventions, dust-ups. The same ones who until a few months ago were against the Mose or shouting enough tourists: lost those battles, they are jumping on this one...."

Brugnaro speaks of museums not in terms of culture, but in terms of budgets and savings: “the Museums Foundation,” he said, “is a public good, which deserves prudent management. In this phase of pandemic, of uncertainty about everything, of the absence of mobility, we have planned a zero-grossing budget to enable us to guarantee layoffs for employees. And it is to them that I turn, to reassure them in the most absolute way. Keeping it open in this situation would have meant jeopardizing the Foundation’s accounts, the jobs. So we are saving jobs, although it is clear that no one likes the layoff.”

The deputy mayor, Andrea Tomaello (League), also almost dissented from the mayor, calling for at least opening on weekends, but Brugnaro was clear: “The opening of museums,” he said, “depends on the resumption of people’s mobility, on the catchment area. Ours lived and will live above all on tourists, on that quality tourism that everyone agrees they want to focus on. The same side that always challenges everything, wishes museums to be at the center of the tourism restart. So without tourists, how do we open.” Venetians can wait: “are we sure there would be the crowds of Venetians at the museums in this situation where you have to be careful even to go shopping at the market? In these months we have given up everything, the kids don’t go to school, we haven’t even seen relatives at Christmas.... Can we really not endure without museums for a while, make even this sacrifice that, in relation to others, doesn’t seem so terrible? Is the issue really that, in such a pandemic situation, we cannot be without exhibitions for two or three months? The Biennale in June was skipped, but there were no motions, petitions, mobilizations. The same M9 in Mestre, the contemporary museum, has been closed since June, but no one has said anything there either, perhaps because that foundation has a different governance.”

As for the accusation of having a corporate conception of culture, Brugnaro retorts, “It’s too convenient for those others to promise, spend, spend, and then Pantalone pays. They promise, they make themselves look good with battles of principle, then they run away, debts and holes remain. This is how Venice, Italy, has been fleeced. It seems that one should be ashamed if one administers a public good like a business, when precisely because it is public one should have an extra eye on it. Ashamed of what? Of making a profit from a foundation? Venice wouldn’t even have been born without an entrepreneurial culture. But those guys only do battles when it suits them.”

Museums closed, Brugnaro insists,
Museums closed, Brugnaro insists, "can we really not last without museums for a while?"