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Cultural assets for sale. A comment on the Italian Code for the cultural assets and landscape
Paola Galli

Paola Galli, laureatasi in Conservazione dei Beni culturali all'Universit di Udine nel 1996, lavora attualmente alla Courtauld Gallery come Family Programme Co-ordinator e frequenta un Master in Arts Policy and Management presso la University of
London, nell'ambito del quale ha redatto un paper sul nuovo Codice. Gentilmente ci concede di inserirlo.



Cultural assets for sale
A comment on the Italian Code for the cultural assets and landscape
Legislative Decree 22 January 2004

Bene culturale, conservazione, valorizzazione e fruizione
The Italian politics for the arts through history
The normative in post-unified Italy
The Sixties
A ministry for the Beni Culturali
Consolidation act, 1999
The Code 42/2004: a critical analysis

Decreto Legislativo 22 gennaio 2004, n.42
Codice dei beni culturali e del paesaggio, ai sensi dell'articolo 10 della legge 6 luglio 2002, n. 137. (in Suppl. ordinario n. 28 alla Gazz. Uff., 24 febbraio, n. 45)
La nascita di PatrimonioSos: appello del 2002 al Presidente della Repubblica


The first of May 2004 marked a turning point in Italian politics for the arts.

For the first time after years and years of attempts aimed at producing regulations to protect the national cultural heritage, the Italian government decided to create a New Code for cultural heritage, called Codice dei Beni Culturali e del Paesaggio .

The parliamentary act (approved on 22 January 2004 and came into force on 1st of May 2004) brought up disputes, caused alarmism and generated disagreement among the whole population. Many Italians are still worried by the fear that the national heritage could be easily sold out piece by piece, causing a runaway and irretrievable loss.

From the President of the Italian Republic Carlo Azelio Ciampi to the President of International Council Of Museums-Italia Daniele Jalla and the Rector of the University of Pisa Salvatore Settis, the newest regulation raised such an issue that its no exaggeration to say that this is one of the hottest political disputes occurring in Italy at the beginning of the Millennium.

The whole Italian policy for the arts and cultural heritage seems now to be called into question, and critics sound dire warnings that mixing economics with art may spell the end of Italy's cultural heritage.

Now, after only a few months, its certainly too early to attempt an objective analysis of the consequences that this regulation may in a long term produce, but it is certainly possible to analyse the code itself and make an overview of both of the main critics moved against it and the positive aspects.

What drives me to face this problem is a basic question: what are the reasons behind why the government thought it was necessary to promulgate a new comprehensive law? And, ultimately, was this law really necessary? How this will affect Italian cultural policy?
This is not a foregone question, considering that only a few years ago, in 1999, the government adopted the Testo Unico, namely consolidation act aimed at re-organize the whole subject. Why has the legislation chosen to produce a new code, instead of revising the previous consolidation act?

Bene culturale, conservazione, valorizzazione e fruizione

Before going into the depth of this subject, it is necessary to explain the meaning of the key Italian words involved.

The expression Bene culturale was used for the first time by the parliamentary Committee Franceschini in 1963. Before that, in fact, the Italian legislation used to use the generic word cose, namely things, when referring to objects of historical, cultural and artistic interest.
The fact that only in 1963 the Italians changed this technical term is not a mere formality at all: the word bene, in fact, much more than things points out the value of the object, meaning not only and necessarily the economic aspects. Bene enlightens especially the cultural significance because it refers to assets or common goods (such as pieces of art, sculptures, landscapes, buildings, papers, manuscripts, etc) which enrich the whole community.
Consequently, cultural heritage, namely patrimonio culturale, is the open set of the beni as a whole.

The concepts of conservazione (conservation, preservation), valorizzazione (appreciation, enhancement) and fruizione pubblica (public fruition, enjoyment, understanding, in other words access) are all used in the new law n.42/2004 and their introduction is both linguistically and politically specific.
Conservazione means to preserve the physical integrity of an object. This includes operations like restoration, protection and museographyc studies in order to prevent damage.
Valorizzazione is a deeper concept which more specifically means to know the value of the object itself. In other words, the more we know about the historic vicissitudes, technical aspects and cultural meanings of an object, the more efficient will its valorizzazione be. The knowledge, in fact, enables the public to appreciate the aesthetic and intrinsic values of a piece of art, and to understand its connections to the territory.
The concept of valorizzazione is strictly interwoven with fruizione pubblica. In fact, the public fruition includes all those actions aimed at making the object visible to the public (through defining, for example in the case of a museum, the place where the object is displayed, opening times, specific regulations, tickets...).
Valorizzazione together with fruizione pubblica aim to preserve the whole cultural heritage; article 2 of legislative decree n.42/2004 states:

Beni culturali are immovable and movable things which, according to the law articles 10 and11, present an artistic, historic archaeological, ethno-anthropologic, archivist and bibliographic interest and other things recognised by the law as evidences carrying value of civilization.

It goes without saying that the main preoccupation for the Italian legislation before and after the unification in 1861 has always been to protect cultural heritage from deprivation and loss.
But why is such an issue still so hot in Italy today?

The Italian politics for the arts through history

Political regulations across the Italian States from the earliest days to 19th century faced the problem of dispersion and exportation of art assets in various ways and with different results.

Visual language is the most immediate communication system, because it is open and able to talk to everyone (literate and not) by reaching immediately the collective unconscious.
For this reason the arts have always met with the interests of power, either democratic or absolute, which has always exercised its control over it.
The politics of the arts, for all these reasons, are instrumental to the needs of the government.

Ancient Romes attitude toward the arts was openly instrumental: the political use of visual and performing forms of communication brought artists and literary figures to make a close relationship with power and the government. It is in ancient Rome, indeed, that for the first time ever, the policy of tutela (preservation, safeguard) was applied, an apposite judge being put in charge of it.

Christianity used the arts as a pedagogic instrument for the diffusion of the contents of its religion , while the Italian Quattrocento introduced a new attitude toward the arts in order to relate to the Roman past by recuperating the old fasts in an aware and intentional way.

The ancients freedom of speculation became a model for Humanists, and they followed it by promoting the centrality of the human being and the rationality of behaviour as the most important values in life. This peculiar relationship brought, for example, sculptor Donatello and architect Brunelleschi to study Roman ruins in Rome. Their diggings were aimed at measuring and making calculations to be elaborated in their works.
In the same historic contest humanists such as Poggio Bracciolini, like the antiquarians, dug out volumes in Italian and European libraries and monasteries, searching for classical authors to reconstruct the pureness of the Latin language. Born without a formal recognition, the artist soon became a useful element to celebrate the heroic deeds of the Renaissance bourgeoisie.

In Renaissance times the practice of collecting spread out into the Italian and European courts. The collections made up by patrons were initially aimed at few adepts, and Rome was the main supplier of antiques. Agents specialized in dealing with pieces of arts coming from the excavations, begun to operate in the Italian capital on behalf of the most important European houses.

If in Medieval times scarce attention was paid to the safeguard of monuments, XV Italian century was characterized by a new awareness produced by the political and cultural stance assumed by the Vatican.

In 1462 Pope Pio II banned the use of antique marbles for new buildings and indiscriminate demolitions.
In the same decade author Francesco Petrarca in a letter to his friend, the humanist Cola di Rienzo, impressively writes:
"And so, step by step ruins are going away, and so huge amounts of evidences of the grandeur of the ancients are disappearing.

Pope Sisto IV in 1474 and 1486 reinforces the role of street judges deputed to stop the alienation of the assets which were kept into the churches.
As evidence of how important the status of an artist was considered, in 1515 painter Raphael was nominated Head of the Monuments and Fine Arts Office of Rome. In a famous and even touching letter to Pope Leone X, Raphael writes:

"Therefore, those very famous works of art, that nowadays more than ever would be gorgeous and beautiful, were set on fire and destroyed by the ruthless violence and cruel impetus of wicked men, or rather wild beasts, () how many pontiffs did spoil ancient temples, statues, arches and other glorious buildings! How many, just to get some pozzolana sand, did make buildings ruin by excavating foundations! How much lime did we get from statues and other antique ornaments? I would dare to say that all this new Rome, that now one can see, how big it is, how wonderful, how embellished by buildings, churches () is all created by some lime coming from ancient marbles

The passage of the humanists from bourgeois to clerical protection happened, however, rather painfully: the violence of the stake condemned both human beings and their assets, when against Catholicism.

In the 17th century the interest towards classicism didnt decline, but begun to adopt new significances: kings and princes wanted to celebrate their power through the glories of ancient Rome. In this century some collections occasionally could even be visited by the public, a practice that helped to raise a sense of belonging and identity among the citizens. It is then understandable that the magnificent collection of the Gonzaga family in Mantua became an element of identity for the city itself, and the Mantuan people felt it as violence towards the whole community when the collection was sold to Charles I of England in 1627. A few years later, this was reinforced by the real sack perpetrated by the German Empire.

The Enlightenment was the century of museums. The Pinacoteca Ambrosiana in Milan, the Uffizi in Florence, the Museo Clementino in Rome are only a few example of art galleries re-organized and occasionally opened to the public.

But another horrible misfortune was about to happen at the turning of 19th century: the Napoleonic spoliations wreaked the Italian arts and cultural landscape.

Promptly, in 1802 Pio VII enacted new regulations for the Vatican: in order to protect the heritage, the Pope asked that a list of all kinds of the immovable and movables pieces of art (belonging either to the church or to privates) should be made and that those goods which were listed couldnt be exported under any circumstances.
This regulation was nothing but a vincolo, a cultural heritage planning restriction.
Fortunately, in 1815 with the Treaty of Paris, some pieces of arts were given back from France, and thanks to Antonio Canova the Vatican accomplished perfectly its diplomatic mission.

The first comprehensive body of laws on this subject was the edict produced by Cardinal Pacca and promulgated on 7th April 1820. Inspired by the principles raised by Antonio Canova in his political mission, it was strongly innovative both because of its contents and the modern view of an administrative plan system.
It was intended to regulate the licences for digging (which despite all the attempts paid in the past, were still out of the control of the authorities); it aimed at checking the exportations of fine goods by introducing heavy taxes; and it settled the roots for an inventory map of the fine goods that had to be strictly controlled by the Vatican.
It also drafted a system of administrative bodies appointed to guarantee the preservation of the heritage through a permanent committee based in Rome and other representatives spread across the territory.
This edict represents an important reference frame for the whole future of Italian law.

However, the Pacca edict has never been fully applied, but ever since it has been taken into consideration. It soon became the model which the Italian States looked at when planning their political strategies, even if it was extremely hard to think of a consistent national regulation plan across the very peculiar Italian regions.
It goes without saying that the diverse Italian laws operating in the territory were necessarily culturally and regionally specific: if since the Seventeenth century the digging activities in Tuscany were made free, the Kingdom of Naples with its macroscopic sites of Ercolano and Pompei needed to be protected with extreme caution.

The normative in post-unified Italy

After the Unification in 1861 cultural heritage was put together under the control of the Ministry of Public Education that soon pinpointed as first objective to protect it from dispersal.
Far from the concept of fruition, the political aim was to limit the discretionary powers of the uses of cultural heritage, both from privates and institutional bodies.
It was pointed out that the most urgent problems consisted of defending the heritage from private propriety and free trade and the necessity of restriction and expropriation of those goods and lands that were of cultural and historic interest. In this respect, the government introduced a series of legislative acts largely inspired by the Pacca edit, and still taken into consideration nowadays.

It wasnt until 1909 that the government thought it right to review the law. The Rosadi act (364/1909) promulgated in 1909 introduced a number of new concepts which set the legislative theories that stand at the base of the Consolidation Act (Testo unico) 1999 and even the new Code 42/2004.
These principles are:

(1) The non-inalienability of cultural heritage of the State, public institutions and privates. Namely, the impossibility for individuals to sell those cultural artefacts that carry cultural and artistic values.

(2) The concept of restriction (vincolo), namely the form of control applied by the State on the proprieties and their conservation status

(3) The right of pre-emption of the State in case of sale

(4) The territorial distribution of the political bodies appointed to control cultural heritage

At the beginning of the 20th century finally the Local Monuments and fine Arts Offices were founded and the process of classification of heritage slowly began.
For thirty years in Italy nothing significant happened on this front, and only during Fascism, in 1939, the Minister of the Public Education Giuseppe Bottai signed a reform.

The Bottai reform finally clearly stated that the role of the cultural heritage is socially fundamental because it forms the identity of the Nation.
The concept of cultural heritage was then precisely defined as: everything that shows an artistic, historic, archaeological or ethnographical interest, including, any evidence of civilization such as coins, documents, books, prints, rare and valuable codes, and also villas, parks and gardens that are artistically and historically relevant . Works of art either made by contemporary artists or older than 50 years were also considered part of the cultural heritage.
The reform also stated that archaeological finds belong to the State but, because the law wasnt retroactive, it marked a watershed: the State couldnt get hold of all those finds that in 1939 and before belonged to private individuals or institutions.
From the administrative point of view the Bottai reform decreed an enforcement of central power by creating a central national committee in charge of coordinating the peripheral local offices.

The Bottai reform together with the Rosadi, as we have seen before, set the guide lines for the following legislation.
The situation remained stable before and after World War II, but with the promulgation of the Republican Constitution (27 December 1947) cultural heritage became one of the primarily declared aims of the Nation. Article 9 states:

The Republic promotes the development of the culture and scientific-technological research. It protects the landscape and the historical and artistic heritage of the Nation

The Sixties

In 1964 Francesco Franceschini was nominated President of a committee founded for the protection and valorizzazione of the archaeological, artistic and landscape heritage . The committee was formed by a group of specialists and politicians who worked for two years in order to edit a document titled For the salvation of cultural assets in Italy
This document in addition to stressing the urgency of producing a listing of those assets that have to be considered part of the national cultural heritage, introduced a new vision: because fine artefacts have a national value, preserving cultural heritage means to protect assets and their specific connections with their cultural context.
In 1968 another committee (the Papaldo) carried on working for the same cause. Even if neither the Franceschini, nor the Papaldo committees came to a legislative conclusion, they had the merit of raising important issues among the politicians and the society. But the listing of the cultural heritage wasnt to be made yet.

A ministry for the Beni Culturali 1975

It was only in 1975 that Italy established a ministry of Fine assets and cultural activities .
The intention which moved the government to set this ministry up was to control and to manage the cultural heritage in a systematic and efficient way.
Reformed once again in 1998, the ministry was then called for the Fine Assets and Cultural Activities, Sport, Tourism and Leisure.
The new ministry focused more on the administrative aspects of the cultural heritage, rather than on its educational use. What happened is that Education and Cultural Heritage were politically disconnected.
At the same time, the Ministry of Education gradually implemented new political measures for reducing the teaching of history of arts in schools, so that nowadays this is not anymore a compulsory, but just an optional subject.
According to Salvatore Settis this fact is extremely serious because in Italy more than anywhere else having consciousness of cultural heritage means having knowledge of history and a civic sense; therefore to wipe the teaching of history of arts out of the compulsory schools is like destroying the civil and institutional memory of the Republic itself.

Consolidation act, 1999

Towards the end of the century Italy finally welcomed the promulgation of the Testo Unico, legislative decree 490/1999.
This act basically adopted the former regulations, adapted the Italian law to the wider European context and begun a political process of decentralization, that is still in process.
In the wake of the concepts elaborated in the Sixties, the consolidation act reinforced the principles of bene culturale:

Every kind of manifestation that carries an important significance of civilization .

Other regulations followed and improved the Consolidation Act:
(1) The Ronchey act 4/1993 extended the possibility of privatization inside museums and other cultural institutions. The privates could now take over the management of shops, food services and cafs from public institutions.
(2) The Paolucci act 85/1995 extended the possibility of privatization inside public cultural institutions even for services to the public such as archives, libraries, slide libraries, audio libraries, exhibition organization, guided tours and education programmes
(3) The Veltroni act 352/97, taking over the former regulations, introduced the constitution of a Public Limited Company called Societ Italiana per i Beni Culturali (Sibec SpA). The original aim of this company was to perform operations of restoration, renovation and enhancement of the cultural heritage. But, because of the difficulties met in applying it, the minister himself opted for a new regulation which provided for a series of companies and foundations set up just for these aims.

This law, which took action only in 2001, raised the most heated disputes.
A group of citizens, most of whom professors and professionals in the cultural field, opened the website www.patrimoniosos.it . The homepage states:

This website comes from the will of a group of private citizens worried about the destiny of the cultural assets in our country after the approval of the law on Patrimonio S.p.A. in 2002.

A letter, attached in appendix 2 of this essay, shows how worried the experts are about the Patrimonio SpA company threat: The recent approval of the law n.63/2002 (law regarding the joint stock company Patrimonio dello Stato S.p.a.) deeply concerns all interested in the preservation and study of the Italian cultural heritage (.) Neither the Colosseum nor the Trevi Fountain are to be sold and continues: One senses that behind the law lies the wish to transform a nationally shared heritage into the private property of a few individuals. Ever since its creation and even in the hardest times and most difficult phases of its history, the Italian State has never contemplated giving up full rights of ownership over its heritage. By contrast, the only kind of value that now seems to hold any weight is mere market value, to which the higher and more permanent symbolic values, with which Italians have always identified, risk being sacrificed.
The letter ends asking the Parliament to suspend the law.
Among the more than 2,300 people who signed the appeal, there are directors of Italian and foreign museums, archives, libraries, and other international institutions such as UNESCO and ICOM.
Although a motion was formally proposed in Parliament, the Italian government didnt stop the process of privatization.

The key point of all this argument goes back again to the definition of bene.
Public assets could be state or estate properties.
Public properties are inalienable and are aimed at the free public fruition (such as streets, squares, beaches ), whereas the patrimony assets form the wealth of the State and can be sold (such as buildings housing public offices, ministries, barracks).
The assets kept in museums, either belonging to the State or a local authority, are usually inalienable.

With the act 112/2002 this concept is under threat: the process of reassuring made it possible that every asset belonging to the State can be yielded to the private sector through companies such as the Patrimonio S.p.A.
In fact, even in the act 42/2004 recently promulgated by the Parliament one can see a mitigation of the concept of non saleability of the State assets.

The Code 42/2004: a critical analysis

Originally, the legislative decree 22 January 2004 n. 42 Codice dei beni culturali e del paesaggio, emanating from Minister Giuliano Urbani, was intended to be an extension of the former Testo Unico.
On the contrary, it became a body of laws that abrogates the former Testo Unico.
On one hand the Code confirms the instances produced by the Consolidation Act, on the other hand it introduces significant innovations.

The Italian Council of Ministers official website states:

With a firm legislative simplification the Code offers a consolidation deed for protecting and promoting the Italians treasure, involving the Local Authorities and defining in an irrevocable way the limits for the alienation of the state property

A legislative simplification?

Some passages are vaguely defined, and offer the opportunity to be criticised, such as Article 2 which states: Public asstes belonging to the cultural heritage are for the collective fruition, institutional needs permitting
What do they mean for institutional needs?

Alessandro Ferretti reckons that although many innovations are undoubtedly positive, some norms still present problems of interpretation. This means that the Code needs a period of adjustment in order to verify some aspects. The regulation will be reviewed in due course, in two years time from when it came into force.

Gerardo Pecci, art historian, draws attention to article 11: Beni that need specific forms of prevention. The first paragraph states: When there are the necessary prerequisites and conditions, Beni culturali are: plaques, inscriptions, frescoes, shields, tabernacles
What are those conditions? Pieces of art of this kind were already considered part of cultural heritage in the former laws, but the requirement of necessary prerequisites and conditions was never introduced before.

Protecting and promoting?

Alessandro Ferretti, points out that a big innovation can be found in the first articles because they offer a series of definitions that are fundamental for the subject So that one can see that even the landscape is considered part of the cultural patrimony of the State being an evidence of the historic, natural and morphological values of the territory. He also finds in the Code a predominance of the concept of tutela (safeguard) over the concept of valorizzazione (enhancement) because the private sector is now obligated to preserve the cultural heritage: one can see that individuals have to demonstrate a real obligation to safeguard their assets. This means that they have now to be more responsible (...) it is possible to give out cultural assets in the form of gratuitous loans to State cultural institutions, alleviating the individuals of any burden of safeguard and restoration, but only for a limited period of time. An important impulse is direct to the possibility of outsourcing, or to leave the cultural activities and services in the care of external bodies, in order to guarantee a better efficiency such as the constitution of legal foundations and sponsorships to create a suitable enhancement of the cultural heritage.

Local Authorities?

One of the main challenges brought up is the full involvement of the Local Authorities bodies (such as Regions, Provinces and Municipalities) in the process of preservation (which before was left to the State).
Critics are not unanimous on this point: the role of the Heads of the Monuments and Fine Arts Office in this respect is going to be reset and substantially standardized to the level of political bodies, being a mere activity of knowledge assistance and basically empty of any executive power. And Bruno Ciliento, Director of the Exportation Office for the Arts of the Fine Arts Office of Turin, adds: To confer to the Regions the executive power in this subject means to break up the unity on this function. () and how can the State control the Regions? And how would the State asset their actions, considering that regions have diverse norms from each other? And finally, which political body is made in charge of judging the regional works?

On my opinion the political decentralization is this respect can be seen as a sensible solution, considering the cultural variety of the Regions in Italy. I agree with professor Saverio Pansini when he writes: for example the regional museums are workshops where the citizen can understand the sense of the city connected with its territory, through the understanding of what belongs to the memory. It becomes a means of civic awareness. Therefore, for these museums the scientific research and the relationship with local universities are vital and intimately connected with their institution. The truth is that the incapacity of Italy to take care of its huge and diverse heritage has always been experienced as an endless sin by the politicians that followed each other into power.

Limits of alienation?

Articles 12 (Verifica dell'interesse culturale), 55 and following (Alienabilit di immobili appartenenti al demanio culturale) discuss rather delicate and complicated issues concerning the alienation of the State assets. The theme of the debate, rather than focusing on the implementation of the reform, looks at the time limits imposed by the legislator with regard to the principle of the implied assent, which is thick with negative consequences.
In fact the norm (in conjunction with the 2004 financial development plan), allows the alienation of the cultural goods whenever the Heads of the Regional Monuments and Fine Arts Offices dont produce an estimation of the cultural assets within 120 days. This means that if the regional offices dont produce the documentation within four months of the official request, it is taken for granted that no assets of cultural interest exist and the State can proceed towards alienation. Considering the huge size of cultural heritage (museums, archives, libraries, buildings, landscape ....) under the protection of each region, this time is absolutely underestimated.
Also, either private or public institutions can ask the State for a declaration of interest. If the answer is positive, then a restriction (vincolo) will stand on the asset. The State will control any activity of restoration, the necessity of public fruition and any movement across the national and international territory of the assets under restriction.
In case of sale, the State has the right of pre-emption.
With the perspective of urging the State to make the heritage profitable, the new legislation envisages that the immovable assets shouldnt be given free of charge to any kind of institution: so that the Uffizi in Florence, for example, will have to pay a proper rent to the State.

Article 58 provides for the possibility that goods can be exchanged with public and private foreign bodies. This norm is causing great concern, too: Who is in charge of deciding whether a cultural asset can be given to a foreign body or not? And what are the aims of these politics? What is the benefit?
Unfortunately, what emerges rather forcefully, is the rather face rather squalid and miserable face of a commercialization trend in cultural heritage, not considered anymore for its specific nature of historic and cultural productions, but for its mere venal value.

In spite of so many concerns, someone thinks that the participation of private enterprises in the management of Italian cultural heritage can be considered beneficial: on 1 of January 2004 Eric Sylvers, of The New York Times, wrote:

In 1993, when it came time to discussing how museums could become more self-sustaining, someone suggested the unthinkable: perhaps the museums should be run, less like post offices and maybe, just maybe, private businesses could be brought into help. A decade later the experiment has, by most accounts, been a success. But supporters say there is still work to be done
"When I got here the idea was that money is dirty, art is sacred and the two things should not be mixed," said Danny Berger, who after almost four decades at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art joined the Cultural Ministry 10 years ago to help write the Italian law that allows private companies to run some parts of the museums. "It took a while, but that attitude has changed.".. Mr. Berger, who has worked through eight Italian governments and six cultural ministers, said: "Some people think you can make money with culture, but that's just not true, the numbers just aren't there. What you can do is make money towards supporting culture."
And that is the idea behind selling concessions to private companies, which pay a fee to run part of a museum and then take home the profit they generate."


The political decentralization of some administrative competences which took place in Italy over the past twenty years has enabled each Region to tailor their actions to the peculiarity of its territory.

This process is specifically relevant regarding arts policy regulations and I believe that the connections that the Code makes among conservation, enhancement, public fruition and the Local Authorities are important.

There is nothing wrong, on my opinion, to entrust private companies with managing cultural services such as computerization, communication, catering, security, retail
However, I have some reservations about letting out research and education. Cultural institutions (museums, galleries, archives and libraries) have to stay under the jurisdiction of the State through the supervision of the State Universities.
Still too far from the principle of the arm's length, in my opinion the risk of the Italian politics is that directors of cultural institutions are closely linked to privates and political bodies may gradually loose their authority and executive independence.

The key point, once again, resides in the meaning of bene culturale and in the use of cultural heritage. Here, I believe, is the reason why the government chose to make a new law, instead of implementing the consolidation act: the meaning of bene culturale hasnt been reduced by the Code, but the application of some norms, such as the implied assent, has dropped the level of its protection.

This fact gives the chance to treat cultural heritage as a business industry that attracts capitals and produces investments.
As a consequence of the slow but inexorable political trend, the cultural industries in Italy in the past ten years, have registered a boom of investments and the proliferation of agencies specialized in producing educational activities, catalogues, exhibitions and events.
Exhibitions and related cultural activities for children, school groups and adults, are one of the fastest-growing sectors of the cultural industry. Agencies can undertake in contract any kind of cultural activities: from planning an exhibition to managing the curatorial, educational and general merchandising activities. Some agencies have in effect the monopoly on a regional or even national scale.
On the one hand private companies can offer stimulating and interesting initiatives to the cultural sector, but on the other hand this system makes cultural activities not accessible to everyone: companies need to make money; directors of public institutions and local politicians are happy to see and increasing of the number of visitors attracted by glittering events; and visitors pay for everything, to the detriment of the accessibility.
Public institutions make little money out of this operation, because their main income is the added value coming from the popularity of the events.
And even when museums and theatres dont seek the help of external companies, they charge for educational activities, tickets and exhibitions, being these, however little, an income.
On 3 August 2004 the civic museums of Milan, traditionally free to everyone, introduced an entrance fee of 3.00 because -explained Salvatore Carrubba, Councillor in charge of the Municipal Cultural Services-: Even culture has a cost and we have been too cheap. The municipal finances are going under ever tighter budgets

The Italian style of privatization is far away from the American system, where museums are non-profit institutions and still loose money, but they get by with little or no government funding because they live off their large endowments.

But, the Italian situation is even far more distant from the English case. Inevitably, I looked at Italian cultural politics with sorrow when I read this statement by Roy Clare, director of the National Maritime Museum of Greenwich:

On its own, free admission is simply a start and what museums are doing is responding with imaginative programmes that enable people to come in and feel the door is open and it is their. To be free is sustainable, is fantastic.

Bottari Francesca, Pizzicannella Fabio, (2002) LItalia dei Tesori. Legislazione dei Beni Culturali, museologia, catalogazione e tutela del patrimonio artistico Zanichelli, Bologna.

Haskell, Francis (1993) History and its images. Art and the interpretation of the past, Yale University Press.

Jury, Louise, Visitor numbers soar at free museums. But at what cost? The Independent, 29 December 2004, pages 18 and 19.

Pasini, Saverio, (2004) Museo e territorio, Progedit, Bari

10 Years Later. Italy Assesses Change In How Its Fabled Museums are Run, Eric Sylvers, The New York Times, 1 January 2004

Musei civici a pagamento. Dal 3 agosto via ai ticket, Corriere della Sera, 7 July 2004, page 21







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