Museums post-pandemic

In a podcast with Bendor Grosvenor last week (still being edited), he asked me what I thought of the decision by Eike Schmidt to lend Raphael’s portrait of Pope Leo X to the Raphael exhibition in Rome against the advice of his scientific committee. I hadn’t, to be honest, noticed it, but I had registered his plan, described in more detail in today’s FT (see below), to redistribute many of the Uffizi’s paintings in store to their original homes in the Tuscan countryside in order to stimulate regional tourism.

This seems to me one of the more interesting initiatives to come out of COVID: to reverse the historically centralising tendencies of museums and to prefer works of art to be seen in situ than in store. It could not work in quite the same way in the UK, but does prompt interesting ideas. The National Trust has said that it will reduce access to its houses, but could it not do more to promote its art collection (eg Upton House) ? The British Museum must have a mass of work which could be better seen closer to where it was originally found, not just Sutton Hoo. Could Oliver Dowden do more to promote regional museums and tourism through extra funding ? Could there be a national redistributive cultural scheme ? via @FT


6 thoughts on “Museums post-pandemic

  1. sandynairne says:

    Just to clarify – the National Trust has no plans to reduce access to its houses (this was a rumour circulating from a leaked think-piece in the spring, which was neither the thinking of the executive nor the trustees). Booking may still be necessary for a while, but I hope that post-Covid free flow entry will return. But the idea of distributing interesting works to more regional places, whether hosues or museums, is absolutely to be applauded. And I’d love to see more promotion for collections at Upton, or Anglesey, or Kingston Lacy, and many others….

  2. joan says:

    I still remember – with a real sense of pleasure – getting on a local bus to Walthamstow to see the Artemisia Gentileschi self portrait displayed in a rather dingy local library. I know that the painting also made stops in a medical setting and a school. It was a really special thing and there should be more of it.

  3. Ariane Bankes says:

    Did you see that the Uffizi are redistributing a lot of their works around Tuscany – see FT weekend – to bring tourists to the smaller towns in need of renewal – brilliant idea.

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