October 22, 2021

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Out of Storage and Onto Walls, the Uffizi Spreads Its Brand

CASTAGNO D’ANDREA, Italy — This little hamlet with a population of close to 300, positioned 40 winding miles northeast of Florence, has hardly ever been on Italy’s should-see A-checklist. Its main claim to fame is that it was the birthplace of the Renaissance painter Andrea del Castagno, who remaining as a child, most probably just before he was previous enough to doodle on the area partitions. (If he did, there are no remnants of his scrawls.)

But this summer months, cultural tourism in this article sharply improved soon after the Uffizi Gallery lent the village a a short while ago restored del Castagno fresco depicting the poet Dante Alighieri. The bank loan coincides with nationwide celebrations for the 700th anniversary of Dante’s dying, as very well as the 600th anniversary of the artist’s beginning.

The fresco’s arrival was a single of the very first steps in a method termed “Uffizi Diffusi,” or “Scattered Uffizi,” an initiative concocted by the gallery’s director, Eike Schmidt. Uffizi Diffusi aims to build much better ties in between the renowned Florentine museum and towns scattered throughout the surrounding Tuscany location by lending them artworks ordinarily stored in storage.

“As with all significant museums, what we have on see is only a tiny part” of the collection, Schmidt explained in a telephone job interview. But couple other museums can assert to have so several masterpieces that they can hold a Botticelli locked away from perspective. (The Uffizi can.)

Alternatively of following in the footsteps of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, which opened a department in Dundee, Scotland, or the Louvre, which opened an outpost in Lens, France, Schmidt stated that he wanted to go in “a a little diverse way and genuinely activate the full area,” utilizing the Uffizi brand name as a contacting card.

“You could not do that in all elements of the environment,” Schmidt reported. “But I think, in Tuscany, it is a great opportunity,” he additional, because of the collection’s relationship to the location. To bolster visibility, the Uffizi is making use of its well-liked social media accounts to plug the venues collaborating in the initiative.

The del Castagno fresco is one particular of the earliest surviving portraits of Dante, and exhibiting it in Castagno d’Andrea was “a aspiration come true” for Emanuele Piani, the mayor of San Godenzo, a close by city that consists of the hamlet in its jurisdiction.

The fresco has been put in in the first room of what nearby officers have named a “virtual museum” of del Castagno’s operates, consisting largely of images of the artist’s finest hits, reproduced on a shrunken scale. The museum is inside the visitors’ middle of the area’s nationwide park, whose historic beech forests were added in 2017 to UNESCO’s World Heritage Record.

“Tourism to the space is usually joined to the countrywide park,” generally drawing trekkers and cyclists, Piani reported. The financial loan of the fresco “is a automobile for other kinds of travellers to get to know our territory,” he additional.

That works with Schmidt’s check out of the initiative. “We’re actually hoping to encourage a new variety of tourism which encompasses the two the cultural and the pure landscape element,” he reported.

About 30 miles south of Castagno d’Andrea, a fairy-tale castle towers more than the city of Poppi and has lengthy drawn travelers to this component of Tuscany, a valley nestled in the Apennines acknowledged as the Casentino. Begun in the 13th century, the castle “has often been a middle of electricity, so it has usually been effectively preserved,” reported Poppi’s mayor, Carlo Toni.

When Toni heard about the Uffizi initiative, he wrote to Schmidt offering the castle — where Nazi troops experienced concealed some works looted from the gallery during Environment War II, like Botticelli’s “The Beginning of Venus” and Michelangelo’s “Doni Tondo” — as a location.

The final result is the exhibition termed, “In the Signal of Dante, the Casentino in the Divine Comedy,” which runs by means of Nov. 30. Six of the seven is effective on display screen — including four drawings by the 16th-century artist Federico Zuccari — are from the Uffizi.

“The castle appeals to readers on its have,” claimed Toni, “but if there is benefit additional, a lot more individuals will arrive.”

The Uffizi’s curators and scholarly team perform with nearby curators to aid choose the will work on personal loan. “You want to present a historically intriguing and right narrative,” Schmidt mentioned. “We really don’t just put the title of the city into the databases and say the portray was there, so let’s convey it there.”

This yr, other financial loans were being provided to an exhibition in Portoferraio, on the island of Elba, commemorating 200 many years given that the loss of life of Napoleon, and to the towns of Prato, Pescia, Montespertoli and Anghiari.

When Schmidt declared the venture past calendar year, he had “tons of letters and cellular phone calls” from local officers and the administrators of smaller museums, he said. A working team from the Uffizi started touring the cities “to seem at what we can do, and no matter whether the areas would be suitable.”

So significantly, about 60 cities have requested to participate, and about two dozen jobs are in the pipeline for 2022 and 2023. “Every year,” Schmidt claimed, “the notion is to mature it a small additional.”

Loans will take diverse types: Some will be as portion of short-term exhibitions, others for extended intervals of time. For a longer time arrangements would be favored “when will work of art can essentially return to their original area,” Schmidt stated.

The Tuscany regional authorities is doing work on a law to aid finance major tasks underneath the Uffizi Diffusi umbrella, like the restoration of the Villa Ambrogiana in Montelupo Fiorentino, close to Florence. As portion of that initiative, some of the hundreds of paintings from the villa that the Uffizi has in storage are set to return there.

“This 12 months, due to the fact it was really, pretty significant to me to begin appropriate away, we employed the most tested and standard means,” Schmidt claimed.

But now, the sky’s the limit. This thirty day period, Schmidt gave Elon Musk and his family members a private tour of the Uffizi and informed Musk, the SpaceX founder, that he would fortunately take into consideration an Uffizi Diffusi challenge, need to a room station ever open up up on Mars.

“If we look long time period, I assume functions of art will be touring to other planets,” Schmidt claimed. “I consider that if human type will be settling on yet another planet, I assume that artwork will be a pretty important part of it, and that functions of artwork will want to be there.”