Personal stories cast a new light on the masterpieces of Uffizi Gallery
“Factories of Stories” is a project promoted by the Uffizi Galleries’ Cultural Mediation and Accessibility Unit, curated by Simona Bodo and Maria Grazia Panigada.
Director Eike Schmidt and the Cultural Mediation and Accessibility Unit deliberately chose to work with a diverse group of storytellers, including both museum staff and 8 “new citizens” (all long-time residents, or even born in Florence, with Italian citizenship status).
They sensed that “Factories of Stories” would be an important opportunity for professional development of the museums staff, and also acknowledged the potential of engaging “new citizens” in the process of collaborative meaning-making.
But above all, museum staff and the “new citizens” were engaged as persons who could breathe new light into the Uffizi artworks through their personal memories.
Individual stories all turned out to revolve around universal themes such as family, friendship, prayer and journey, casting a more evocative and personally meaningful light on otherwise “iconic” Uffizi masterpieces like the Spring by Botticelli or the Virgin and Child with St. Anne by Masaccio and Masolino.
“Factories of Stories” is accessible from three different sections of the Uffizi Galleries website, through:
• Special Visits: audio files
• HyperVisions: high-definition images of the artworks and written text of the stories
• Artworks: high definition of the artworks, short “scientific” description and audio files
Jean Capart and the social role of museums in the early 1900s
Storytelling as a tool to bring the public closer to cultural heritage has its roots as early as the beginning of the 20th century, when the Belgian Egyptologist Jean Capart transformed the Musée Royaux d’Art et d’Histoire in Brussels into one of the main centres for promoting the social role that the museum institutions were beginning to play, in line with the instructions given by the Office International des Musées, of which he was one of the main exponents.
Among the most interesting initiatives carried out by Capart, in 1901 the Egyptologist set up a series of courses for young people, characterised using an informal teaching approach (for example, when he deals with the principles of Egyptian drawing, he invites his students to assume the position of the characters depicted on the reliefs).
In 1922 Capart succeeded in carrying out his most ambitious project: the creation of an educational service for museums, whose task was to organise popular conferences based on artistic and archaeological topics of general interest. Lectures were held at the museum on Sunday mornings at a reduced price, to allow the largest possible audience to participate.
In particular, the formula devised by Capart multiplied the number of young visitors: the number of school visits to the museum went from twenty in 1922 to around 600 in the period 1925-1926, reaching a thousand visits around 1945.
Copyright (c) 2019 IL CAPITALE CULTURALE. Studies on the Value of Cultural Heritage,
edited by Patrizia Dragoni, Mara Cerquetti
More information (text in Italian)
The Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens organised the exhibition “Kallos, The Ultimate Beauty” (29/9/21 – 16/1/22). “Kallos” is an ideal developed in Ancient Greek thinking and was expressed by the epic and the lyric poets, initially referring to outward beauty. From the 6th century BC, philosophers referred to Kallos as a combination of physical beauty and virtues of the soul.
The exhibition displays three hundred emblematic antiquities from fifty two museums and collections from Greece, Italy and the Vatican.
The exhibition was curated by Professor Nikolaos Chr. Stampolidis and Dr. Ioannis Fappas, was done with the generous support of L’ Oreal and was visited by thousands of people. The exhibition was also the inspiration of a new collection of items that are sold in the museum shop and the e-shop.
The museum received excellent publicity on the Greek and International media through many press releases before and during the exhibition. “Kallos” is an example of a good practice of the cultural world cooperating with the business world, for the benefit of both.
Museum of Cycladic Art
This article highlights the importance of targeted funds for culture and heritage activities.
In the UK in winter 2021, emergency funding available for arts, culture and heritage was doubled to £60 million to tackle the impact of the Omicron variant. £60m would give crucial support to museums, cinemas, theatres and heritage across the country, with more time to submit applications to benefit as many of those affected as possible.
This funding recognised the importance of the winter period for the arts, heritage and creative sectors and will provide vital emergency grants, doubling the amount previously available in the last round of the Culture Recovery Fund.
UK Government funding through Arts Council England will also provide an immediate £1.5 million to support freelancers affected by the pandemic, as well as a further £1.35 million from the theatre sector. This will provide grants of £650,000 each directly to the Theatre Artists Fund, Help Musicians and £200,000 to one, Artists Information Company, a charity for visual artists which will distribute money to freelancers in the coming weeks.
In Europe, the EC has produce a Coronavirus response plan for the culture and creative organisations. For instance, the Creative Europe programme was adapted to the Covid situation in order to help artists, beneficiaries, and other participants in the programme to overcome the difficulties and uncertainties that resulted from measures to contain the spread of COVID-19. The Commission together with the European Education and Culture Executive Agency applied the maximum flexibility it could in the implementation of the programme, within the limits of the applicable legal framework. Projects that needed, have been adapted or amended in order to continue their activities.
Since 2021, a new Creative and Media programme has been launched with a budget of € 2.44 billion and new calls are being published. Find out more about the new European programme
The Synopsis project has created a fundraising module to support the training of those working in European cultural heritage. Find out more