Friday, October 10, 2008

Another Diversion from Italy's Serious Problems

The New York Times has reported on an exhibit in Rome celebrating the upcoming 100th anniversary of Italy's 1909 Cultural Heritage law:

Funny, there is no mention of Mussolini's part in expanding and extending that law in 1939, but perhaps the Fascist overtones would put an unwanted gloss on the story.

In the meantime, the Chicago Tribune has reported on the real state of Italy's cultural heritage in an article about a decision to open Pompeii, one of the country's best known archaeological sites, to private ventures:,0,5021224.story As the article states,

The opening of Pompeii to private ventures comes as the government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, pinched for cash, has slashed state funds for arts and archeological sites. Archeology restoration funds for Pompeii suffered a deep cut, reduced from $75 million last fiscal year to $15 million this fiscal year, the top archeologist there said.

Given these stark financial realities, Italy needs fewer exhibits designed to pump up nationalistic impulses, less government control over everything and anything "old," and more of an effort to focus limited resources and to engage the populace as has been successfully done in the UK with its Treasure Act and PAS. During its last time in power, the Berlusconi government pressed to modernize Italy's laws, but with little success against the country's entrenched archaeological bureaucracy. Hopefully, the government's initiative at Pompeii is just the beginning of other, more successful efforts.

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