Italian Cultural Institutions Awaiting Further “Shake-up”

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Dario Franceschini, Minister of Culture, Italy

Italian Minister of Culture Dario Franceschini has been working towards a reshaping of the nation’s cultural heritage efforts over the last two years, and has begun to formulate a path forward. Starting in 2014, Italy began seeking foreign arts and culture directors in order to improve the profitability of the nation’s cultural treasures like the Colosseum in Rome. The effort led by Franceschini had the goal of increasing Italy’s tourism revenue by 600% by 2017, led by a series of government overhauls in the nation’s cultural heritage and management infrastructure – including the creation of 18 new regional cultural offices.

Some critics pointed to this as a move away from having the artistic treasures of the nation under the care of scholars, by giving management and business experts more control over Italy’s museums. Part of the implied plans were that some foreign entities could take control of the museums from Rome in many cases, leaving the Italian government out of the equation in many museum-business decisions. But despite these criticisms, whether founded or not, Franceschini had appointed 20 new directors to the nation’s museums, removing many long-time employees from their posts in lieu of a new crop of leaders. According to The Guardian, “Fourteen art historians, four archaeologists, one cultural manager and a museum specialist make up the new directors, who will be at the forefront of cultural reform in Italy. The majority have international backgrounds and half are women, although the culture minister, Dario Franceschini, said nationality and gender had no influence on Tuesday’s appointments.” Only seven were from nations other than Italy.

In 2016 Franceschini took the effort one step further, by amalgamating all Italian government agencies covering issues involving Archaeology, Fine Arts, and Parks into one singular agency, which run 39 “Soprintendenze”. Ten autonomous museum structures will be established, the directors of which are currently being sought in an international search. The new bureaucratic structure is another part of what is likely the most significant reorganization of cultural heritage infrastructure in the world since the start of the 21st century. Most observers believe that the end has yet to come, and that many more major changes should be expected.

 

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