Monday, October 18, 2010

See Italy's treasures

Art Tuesdays
(issue no. 129/2010 / October 7, 2010)
New initiatives launched by MiBAC

How to attract new visitors to Italy's state museums? Open the doors for free once a month. To further promote Italy's vast cultural heritage, the Italian ministry of culture (MiBAC) is taking that idea a step further and offering once-a-month evening entrance to Italy's museums-for free.

As part of the initiative, Art Tuesdays, art-lovers can visit favourite masterworks or discover new ones that are housed in Italy's most popular state museums on the evenings of October 26, November 30 and December 28. On these days, admission will be free from 7pm to 11pm. (See below for a list of Tuscany's participating museums; for a list of those in Italy, see

But you won't see me there. Actually, apart from the (ridiculous) €14 it costs to get into the Vatican Museums, I find the big galleries to be very reasonably priced. The last time I went to the Capitoline, I think it was only €8 (just ignore the sign on the counter that says "exact change only". Everyone who has lived here for more than a week will tell you of the weird obsession Italian shop workers have with asking you for change. "No, actually, I don't have fifty centesimi. Why? Because I've had to give exact change to everyone I've bought something from today, and I've run out." Just one of those eight billion weird little things about life in Italy that will drive you mad if you let it...)...wait what was I saying?

Oh yes. The galleries. I think the Borghese costs nine. And it's not like the ten bucks you spend to get into the wretched Vancouver Art Gallery. I remember spending ten bucks to get into the VAG and being rewarded by a display of faux-Salish masks made out of running shoes. Clever wot?

No, in an Italian art gallery, it doesn't take more than about thirty seconds to forget all about the money (and aggravation) you spent getting in.

I'm talking about huge Renaissance palaces bursting with Caravaggios, Raphaels, Michelangelos, Ghirlandaios, Titians and Berninis. In fact, you don't really even have to go to a gallery. I was in Sopra Minerva the other night. Prayed at the tomb of Fra Angelico, got a long long gaze at an annunciation fresco by Filippino Lippi, and bought the postcard for 50c.

So much art in this city. So much of it the kind of art you spend your whole life looking at in picture books.

Honestly, people who moan over a lousy ten bucks don't deserve anything better than the VAG.


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