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Art on the Move?

Two of the most important Florentine sculptures, Michelangelo’s David and Gianbologna’s Rape of the Sabine Women, prompted a great deal of debate this summer as, although for different reasons, were proposed to be moved respectively from the Accademia Museum and the Loggia dei Lanzi.

Discussion about a new possible destination for Michelangelo’s David to reduce traffic congestion in Florence began in 2008 and was resumed last July by the President of the Florence Hotel Association, Giancarlo Carniani. Although quite skeptical about the decision ever being made, Carniani said that it would be a great change for Florence if a new crystal museum on the Louvre Pyramid style was built.

“If we did it ten years ago, today we would not be here talking about the problem of tourist flux,” said Carniani.

According to Carniani, there would be many advantages of the combined effects of a new museum to showcase Michelangelo’s David with a mandatory reservation for the Uffizi and the Accademia to be made simultaneously to that of the hotel or the apartment and an extension of the museums’ opening hours.

“Tourists would have more time to visit other parts of the city; we also proposed that the tourists who spends more than one day in Florence should be treated with more care and receive incentives regardless of the quality of their accommodation; for example, they may get a discount in tourist buses and some facilitation for the entrance to the museums,” said Carniani.

Another measure that will be debated in the near future is that of the possible introduction of a tourist police, as it already exists in some European cities, to ease tourist’s movement around the city and prevent degradation.

The other sculpture on which there was talking of a possible move is Gianbologna’s Rape of the Sabine Women. Air pollution has deteriorated the state of the marble of the statue, and Uffizi director Eike Schmidt has insisted upon moving it inside the Uffizi Gallery to better preserve it, as already his predecessor Antonio Natali had done. Moreover, the sculpture has more than once been the target of vandalism by tourists.

“We would lie if we said that the conditions of this sculpture since 2000 have not worsened, because of the worsening of air pollution; even the heat of this summer has not helped, and it is difficult to not think that the situation will get worse; for this reason, we are thinking of making a copy of it and move the original inside,” said Schmidt.

However, such measures, in a city like Florence, seem destined to encounter a great deal of opposition, regardless of how good their intentions are.


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