Uffizi is Out of Tank and Spreading Its Brand on the Walls


CASTAGNO D’ANDREA, Italy – This tiny hamlet of around 300 inhabitants, 40 roundabout miles northeast of Florence, hadn’t been on Italy’s must-see A-list. Its main claim to fame was that it was likely the birthplace of Renaissance painter Andrea del Castagno, who left as a child before he was old enough to scribble on local walls. (If he did, there is no trace of his scribbling.)

This summer, however, cultural tourism here has spiked sharply after the Uffizi Gallery loaned the village a recently restored del Castagno fresco depicting the poet Dante Alighieri. The credits coincide with national celebrations for the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death and the 600th anniversary of the artist’s birth.

The arrival of the fresco was one of the first acts in the program called “Uffizi Diffusi” or “Scattered Uffizi”, an initiative by the gallery’s director, Eike Schmidt. The Uffizi Diffusi aims to forge stronger bonds between the famous museum of Florence and the surrounding towns scattered throughout Tuscany by lending works of art that are often kept in storage.

“As with all major museums, what we have is only a small part of the collection,” Schmidt said in a phone interview. But few other museums can claim to have enough masterpieces to keep Botticelli out of sight. (Can make Uffiz.)

Instead of following in the footsteps of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Opening a branch in Dundee, Scotlandor the Louvre, He opened an outpost in Lens, France.Using the Uffizi brand as a calling card, Schmidt said he wanted to “go in a slightly different direction and really activate the whole area.”

“You can’t do this anywhere in the world,” Schmidt said. “But I think this is an excellent opportunity in Tuscany,” he added, because of the collection’s connection to the region. Uffizi to increase visibility using popular social media accounts to plug in venues participating in the initiative.

The Del Castagno fresco is one of the earliest surviving portraits of Dante, and displaying it in Castagno d’Andrea was “a dream come true” for Emanuele Piani, mayor of San Godenzo, a nearby town that includes the hamlet that falls under his jurisdiction.

The fresco was placed in the first room of the room, which local officials called “”.virtual museumdel Castagno’s works, reproduced on a scaled down scale, mostly consisting of photographs of the artist’s greatest hits”. The museum is inside the area’s visitor center. national parkThe old beech forests were added to the UNESCO list in 2017. World Heritage List.

“Tourism to the area is often linked to the national park,” Piani said. The fresco loan is “a tool for other types of tourists to get to know our region,” he added.

This works from Schmidt’s perspective on enterprise. “We really hope to promote a new form of tourism that encompasses both the cultural and natural landscape aspect,” he said.

About 30 miles south of Castagno d’Andrea, a fairytale castle rises above the town of Poppi and has long drawn tourists to this part of Tuscany, a valley known in the Apennines as Casentino. Beginning in the 13th century, the castle “has always been a powerhouse, so it has always been well preserved,” said Carlo Toni, mayor of Poppi.

When Toni hears of the Uffizi attempt, Schmidt tells Schmidt that Nazi troops such as Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” and Michelangelo’s “Doni Tondo” are part of World War II. .

The result was the exhibition “In the Sign of Dante, the Casentino in the Divine Comedy”, which runs until 30 November. Six of the seven works on display – including four drawings by the 16th century painter Federico Zuccari – are from the Uffizi.

“The castle itself attracts visitors,” Toni said, “but if there is added value, more people will come.”

The Uffizi’s curators and academic staff work with local curators to help select works on loan. “You need to present a historically interesting and accurate narrative,” Schmidt said. “We don’t put the town’s name in the database and say the table is there, so let’s bring it there.”

Other loans were granted this year. An exhibition in PortoferraioOn the island of Elba and the towns of Prato, Pescia, Montespertoli and Anghiari to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Napoleon’s death.

When Schmidt announced the project last year, he said he had received “tons of letters and phone calls” from local officials and managers of smaller museums. A study group from the Uffizi began touring the towns “to see what we could do and if places were available”.

So far, about 60 towns have asked to participate, and about two dozen projects are on the way for 2022 and 2023. “Every year,” Schmidt said, “the idea is to make it a little bigger.”

Loans will take different forms: some will be part of temporary exhibitions, others will be of longer duration. Longer edits would be preferable when “artworks can return to their original location,” Schmidt says.

The Tuscan regional government is working on a law that will help fund major projects under the Uffizi Diffusi umbrella, such as the restoration of Villa Ambrogiana in Montelupo Fiorentino, near Florence. As part of this initiative, some of the hundreds of paintings in the villa that are in the Uffizi’s warehouse are arranged to be sent back there.

“This year, we used the most tested and traditional methods because it was very, very important to me to get started right away,” Schmidt said.

But now, the sky is the limit. This month, Schmidt gave Elon Musk and his family a private tour of the Uffizi and told SpaceX founder Musk that he would happily consider a Uffizi Diffusi project if a space station was opened on Mars.

“Looking long-term, I think works of art will travel to other planets,” Schmidt said. “I think that if the human species is to settle on another planet, art will be a very important part of that and the artworks have to be there.”


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