Art and Technology at Florens 2010

There are a lot of very interesting things to tell about our day and a half in Florence. It’s unbelievable that we managed to do so much, despite the rain!

Duomo, Florence

The reason for the trip was to speak at the session on ‘Art, Internet and New Media’. This activity and dozens more were part of the Florens 2010 event, which brought together museum and heritage professionals to discuss a variety of issues from multiple perspectives.

The Museu Picasso was asked to give a presentation about the digital dimension of the Museum. We are currently working on a range of projects in several directions, but for the presentation we basically focused on three:

· The website (explaining our web redesign process and the progress made to date)
· The online collection
· An active presence on the social networks

We wound up by previewing some projects for the future (hopefully not too distant). The presentation has been uploaded on Slideshare and embedded here:

View more presentations from Conxa Rodà.

The other presentation I’d like to comment on was by the Director of Publications of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, Chiara Barbieri, who talked about the greater-than-ever need to ‘diversify our ability to speak in public’.

iPhone application

Of the many conversations with other professionals and the various articles published in the local Florentine press during our stay, let me highlight two points:

· A rich heritage, such as Italy possesses, may also be a problem in many ways. A movable and immovable heritage on such an extraordinary scale is a great challenge not only in terms of the resources needed to conserve and manage it and make it accessible to the public but also in terms of communication. As the director of, Piero Muscarà, pointed out, the amount of information is so vast that there is a real risk of overloading the user, making it more necessary than ever to have collaborative platforms that will enable a greater social use.

· The need to attract the interest of the local public. The words of the director of the Uffizi Gallery, Antonio Natali, strongly reminded me of one of the priority commitments that our Director has set for the Museu Picasso in relation to the citizens of Barcelona and Catalonia and tourism: ‘Gli Uffizi non hanno bisogno d’altri turisti, ma di essere amati, specialmente dai fiorentini’ — ‘Rather than needing other tourists, the Uffizi needs to be loved especially by the people of Florence’.

Queue outside the Uffizi Gallery and signs on the exterior emphasizing that the texts are in English

But for me the high point of the day, which I had not expected, was attending the session on ‘Museums in the Global Context: Competition or Collaboration?’ with really outstanding speakers: Philippe de Montebello, who has been the Director of the Metropolitan Museum in New York for the last 31 years; Michael Govan, Director of LACMA, Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Thomas Grenon, General Administrator of the Réunion des musées nationaux in France; Peter Reed, Deputy Director for Cultural Affairs of the MoMA in New York, and Wafaa Saddik, Director of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, were introduced by Giandomenico Romanelli, Venice City Council’s Director of Cultural Heritage.

The second surprise: the auditorium was half empty, even though we had been warned to come early because it was expected to be oversubscribed. It’s quite clear that when museums organize conferences, if we don’t stipulate confirmation in advance, we can never be sure what will happen. And, of course, it’s true that the Florens 2010 week was full of interesting simultaneous events, but for me this was one of the stars.

I know I have a bad habit of writing blogs that are too long (there’s so much to say!), so I’ve divided this one from Florence in two. I’m saving for a coming post an account of this extremely interesting directors’ conference, which I am still processing 🙂

Conxa Rodà
Project manager

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