The fifth edition of the event promoted by the Municipality of Milan and organized in collaboration with the non-profit MuseoCity association, which was supposed to take place at the beginning of March with the goal of making the artistic heritage of the city’s cultural institutions accessible and enhancing its value, has been rapidly transformed into a series of impressive initiatives to ease the mind and spirit at any time.
The lockdown order issued just a few days before the start of the event made it possible not only to make the initiatives evergreen online, but also to respond to new priorities, such as turning culture into care for people’s state of mind, with proposals that can be experienced more actively. “Today more than ever,” commented Anna Detheridge of MuseoCity’s scientific committee, “cultural institutions are required to play an extremely important role: to bring society together through new paradigms and cultural dialogues. Museums are public spaces and require new multimedia planning introduced through a dialogue-based approach.”
The dozens of guided tours, conferences, online meetings and podcasts offered by the eighty-five participating organizations have demonstrated that museums (public, private and corporate) are truly precious assets because they can transform art into emotions and care for the soul.
It is no surprise that among the most viewed videos on the MuseoCity channel are the Cultural connections series created in collaboration with Milanoguida and Museo Segreto, an exhibition spread throughout the Milan area that connected 70 artworks and objects linked by the theme: “Museums care for the soul”. How? With emotion. Emotion through unexpected discoveries. Emotion in the pleasure of sharing. Emotion through interviews to bring the virtual visits to life, because, as Silvia Adler, project manager at MuseoCity, explains, curiosity is an enabler, a natural trigger. The value that we want to convey through our every initiative is that we can train ourselves to develop different ideas. Open-mindedness, creative influences and a mix of genres is key to transforming fascinating works of art into leaps towards other worlds bordering on the fantastic, allowing us to travel with our imagination and be transported to a dimension of serene contemplation.”
Therefore, one or more works of art from collections chosen in different institutions, such as the Archaeological Museum of Corso Magenta, the Poldi Pezzoli Museum, Palazzo Reale, the “Achille Bertarelli” Print Collection in Castello Sforzesco and many others, become,” adds the project manager, “enablers of therapeutic, comforting, and soothing power, as well as knowledge and social stimulation. These often involve extraordinary innovations or original and curious aspects that define and interpret the central theme in a way that is most appropriate to the history and characteristics of each museum and cultural institution. The sequence of chosen works reconstructs a city in progress and highlights the positive sense of the city’s memory.”
Embracing this positive sense of collective memory, at this 5th edition, MUMAC, which supports the initiative, presented Un libro nel tempo di un caffè (A book in the time of coffee) and, exclusively for Museo Segreto, Arte e cultura caffè nei bolli chiudilettera storici (Art and coffee culture in historical letter seals), a unique exhibition of miniature commemorative posters. The sophisticated and minimal graphic design, which reflects Italian style, history, art, culture and tradition at the turn of the 1930s and 1950s, stars in an unprecedented journey to discover the uses and consumption of the drink, interpreted by various roasters of the time and now preserved in the Library’s archives: “It was a short step from the theme proposed by MuseoCity (museums that care for the city), to the museum as a place of repose, to coffee and books as care and repose,” remarks Barbara Foglia, MUMAC Manager. “The project presented by MUMAC made it possible to rediscover, refresh and share content from the archives and historical coffee library, providing access, through social media, to content that would otherwise have remained frozen in an untimely and dramatic lockdown.”
This is yet another example of the innovative power that makes MuseoCity’s channels a great source of content and, above all, of unexpected experimentation. Indeed, it was so unexpected that it has aroused ever more interest and the viewing figures are continually increasing. “To date,” Adler confirms, “over 600 hours have been viewed on more than 80 videos, including an experience at the Historical Museum of Firefighting.” The same is true for the podcasts, which were listened to by thousands of people in the first few weeks, surpassing last year’s peak access rate in a single day.”
This is hardly surprising: each project is a valuable source of knowledge and experience. For example, Museo Segreto, the new series of podcasts by MuseoCity, has suggested seven virtual walks, imaginary routes guided by two narrative voices which, by indicating what to visit, convey emotion and courage, describing projects of urban redevelopment, progress, humanity, music, spirituality, society and inclusion.
“Our commitment,” concludes the creator of the initiative, “is to make culture always accessible, because it does good. We hope that visiting museums, even virtually, especially at this difficult time, can become an essential cure to alleviate wounds, precisely because of their ability to show beauty, creative potential, gestures of human solidarity and projects for the community.” Because culture doesn’t stop. On the contrary, it is sailing fast towards new shores.