Italy state mu­se­ums see record num­bers of vis­i­tors

Yuma Sun - - DESSERT LIFE -

ROME — Ital­ian state mu­se­ums are on track for an­other record-set­ting year in 2017 in terms of vis­i­tors and rev­enue, with the out­door Colos­seum in Rome and Pom­peii near Naples top­ping the Cul­ture Min­istry’s most-vis­ited and mostlu­cra­tive list.

The min­istry on Mon­day is­sued a three-year re­view of its revo­lu­tion­ary de­ci­sion to bring in non-Ital­ian di­rec­tors for some of the gems of its na­tional mu­seum net­work, and to give the in­sti­tu­tions greater au­ton­omy. The re­sults were sig­nif­i­cant: an 18.5 per­cent in­crease in the num­ber of vis­i­tors na­tion­wide from 2013-2016, and a 38.4 per­cent in­crease in rev­enue — or about 48.5 mil­lion — to 175 mil­lion eu­ros last year.

Cul­ture Min­is­ter Dario Frances­chini said the min­istry’s re­forms “are start­ing to bear fruit.” He praised a con­tin­ued “rad­i­cal in­ver­sion of trends,” with visi­tor num­bers al­ready up 9.4 per­cent and rev­enues up 13.5 per­cent in the first nine months of 2017.

With more UNESCO her­itage sites than any other coun­try, Italy’s out­door cul­tural pat­ri­mony is one of its big­gest draws — Rome’s Colos­seum and Forum, the la­goon city of Venice and the Ro­man am­phithe­ater of Sira­cusa to name a few. Fresco-filled churches and basil­i­cas, many in quaint Me­dieval hill­top towns, are other fa­vored tourist des­ti­na­tion.

Tra­di­tional mu­se­ums of­ten play sec­ond fid­dle to such ex­tra­or­di­nary sites and fre­quently pale in com­par­i­son to their coun­ter­parts in world cap­i­tals in terms of mul­ti­lin­gual la­bel­ing, ed­u­ca­tional ac­tiv­i­ties and lu­cra­tive li­cens­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Frances­chini sought to change that by over­haul­ing the mu­seum sys­tem in 2014 and bring­ing in a hand­ful of for­eign di­rec­tors: The Ger­man Eike Sch­midt runs the Uf­fizi, Bri­tish James Brad­burne heads Milan’s Pi­na­coteca di Br­era and French Syl­vain Bel­lenger runs the Capodi­monte in Naples.

The Cul­ture Min­istry is re­spon­si­ble for 439 of Italy’s 4,834 mu­se­ums, so a frac­tion of Italy’s artis­tic, ar­chae­o­log­i­cal, his­tor­i­cal mu­se­ums. But it runs some of the most im­por­tant ones.

Over­all, the Colos­seum was con­sis­tently the great­est draw over the last three years, with some 6.68 mil­lion vis­i­tors in 2016.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS PHO­TOS

ABOVE: IN THIS APRIL 17, 2015 FILE PHOTO, tourists visit the an­cient Ro­man forum and the Colos­seum, in Rome. Ital­ian mu­se­ums are on track for an­other record-set­ting year in 2017 in terms of vis­i­tors and rev­enues, with the out­door Colos­seum in Rome and Pom­peii near Naples top­ping the Cul­ture Min­istry’s most-vis­ited and most-lu­cra­tive list. BOT­TOM RIGHT: In this Tues­day, Aug. 1, file photo, peo­ple line up to en­ter the Uf­fizi Gallery in Florence, Italy.

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