Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

Art has always helped, healed and cured

Courtesy Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli-Turin.

Kate Brown, One of Italy’s Leading Contemporary Art Museums Will Be Transformed Into a Vaccination Center, ArtNet News, 18 January 2021

Artist Claudia Comte is making a special audio work for those waiting in line for their shot.

The Castello di Rivoli has offered up its galleries to help the vaccination effort in Italy. The Turin museum will be the first cultural venue to transform itself into a vaccination center for the public.

The pilot program will begin in March or April, depending on the timeline of the rollout of the vaccine for medical workers and in-patient elderly folk, who will be vaccinated first.

Museum director Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev says in a statement that the museum is “well-equipped” for the initiative with the space needed to maintain social distancing. Climate-control, security, and timed entry protocols are also already in place, all of which are essential to smoothly running vaccine center. “Our friendly museum guides are well-trained in monitoring the public,” Christov-Bakargiev adds.

The museum is partnering with the Rivoli health authorities on the initiative. The third floor of the museum, which sprawls 10,000 square feet, will be taken over for the purpose, while the museum’s public exhibition program will continue as usual on the second and first floors (once the locked down museum is permitted to reopen). Swiss artist Claudia Comte’s installation of murals will be visible while patients wait for their shots. The artist is also preparing a new audio piece with the vaccination center, especially in mind.

Italy was one of the worst-hit countries last spring when the pandemic emerged in Europe. The virus has since claimed 80,000 lives and infected 2.3 million people in the country, and its museums have remained closed since November 4, 2020, as the country has battled back a second wave of infections. From today, the nation is lifting the lockdown for museums in the “yellow” zones of its three-tiered system. The Castello di Rivoli won’t be so lucky quite yet as it is located in an orange zone.

An exhibition by Anne Imhof titled “Sex,” and a group exhibition spanning centuries of various forms of expressionist art, which both are set to open on March 15, will be on view on the floors below the vaccination center.

“Art has always helped, healed, and cured—indeed some of the first museums in the world were hospitals,” Christov-Bakargiev continues in her statement. “Our buildings can continue to serve this purpose and fulfill our mission: arte cura—art helps.”

Council of Australasian Museum Directors c/o Lynley Crosswell, Museums Victoria, GPO Box 666, Melbourne VIC 3001, © CAMD 2023
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