IES Abroad Rome Students Learn About Museums and Art Conservation from Experts

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Victoria Bruick
December 28, 2017

Each semester, IES Abroad Rome organizes a series of lectures and conferences on a range of topics given by experts in their respective fields. During the Fall 2017 semester, IES Abroad students studying abroad in Rome had the rare opportunity to attend a conference on the management of cultural heritage in Italy, and a guest lecture on the importance of art conservation. Read on to learn more about our student’s immersive cultural experience.  

Museums Between Tradition and Innovation

The “Museums Between Tradition and Innovation” Conference took place in October 2017 and was held by Professor Cristina Da Milano, President of the European Centre for Cultural Organization and Management (ECCOM), a board member of CAE-Culture Action Europe, and the IES Abroad Rome lecturer for the Planning & Management of Cultural Heritage course.

The conference offered a framework to help students understand how museums are curated today, and what their role is in contemporary society. Additionally, the conference covered how cultural heritage institutions can engage in successful cultural marketing planning models to attract visitors.

Professor Da Milano explained that many museums and cultural sites are not attracting enough visitors, especially those under 16 years old. Today, many Italian museums are not taking advantage of modern technology and new media, which can enhance a visitor’s experience.

Professor Da Milano explained how the experience of visiting a museum should be multifactorial including physical, social, and personal elements. Additionally, the professor explained that the resources, services, and facilities of the museum must be adequate; a museum’s masterpieces can lose their impact on a visitor if the museum itself does not meet expectations.  

The professor showed students a series of effective and non-effective marketing campaigns from both Italy and foreign countries as examples. Professor Da Milano offered insight on how Italy could improve its museum experience suggesting that the country look at cultural marketing models used in countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, or the Netherlands.

Professor Da Milano pointing at map of Europe during conference

Conservation as an Instrument of Knowledge

Federica Giacomini, an art restorer and conservation projects coordinator at the Soprintendenza Archeologica di Roma held a guest lecture for IES Abroad Rome students on “Conservation as an Instrument of Knowledge”.

Federica Giacomini’s lecture focused on understanding art through conservation techniques and practice. The professor provided specific art works as examples, from archaeological artifacts to fresco paintings. These examples showcased different conservation methods and illustrated the importance of the conservation process (specifically scientific investigation) and interdisciplinary work between art historians and scientists.

In some cases, a better understanding of conservation techniques has provided restorers and historians useful insight into the historical interpretations of these works. In some cases, entirely altering the pre-existing historical interpretation related to the art work.

Rome – Language & Area Studies student and IES Abroad Correspondent, Naomi Farahan (IES Abroad Rome, Fall 2017 | Indiana University) discussed the lecture in her blog  post “A Reflection on Art Restoration”. Naomi writes about the Sistine Chapel, which Federicia discusses during the lecture. Specialists removed hundreds of years of oil, dirt, and dust from the Sistine Chapel frescos revealing bright colors of blues and orange.

“Giacomini said that the cleaning was controversial for a number of reasons. Scholars convinced themselves of a dark and brooding Michelangelo, and that was mostly based off of the former Sistine Chapel. They would now have to completely rethink who Michelangelo would have been,” wrote Naomi.

The lecture kindled a new awareness in the students, who were surprised by the array of different techniques involved in the conservation of art. They were also fascinated by the investigative qualities of conservation, and appreciated its importance as a critical instrument in art restoration.

Guest lecture speaks to ies abroad students studying abroad in Rome

Learn more about studying abroad in Rome including academic opportunities, field trips, and stories from our Correspondents.

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Victoria Bruick

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