The first to resign from Italy against decay

For thirty years in the municipality, the former director of the Strada Nuova museums, Piero Boccardo, has explained his intention to “touch the waters”


I resigned from 1 January last year, at the end of the 33rd year of service in the Municipality of Genoa, or one and a half years before my official retirement, which will take place in June 2023, to condemn the deterioration of management of the Genoese municipal museums of the present Administration and of those involved. I am therefore not an “early retiree”: mine are not convenience terminations, but a waiver of one and a half years’ salary to try to get things started. Even if there is no worse deaf person than someone who does not want to hear … ».

Since 2000 director of Palazzo Rosso (having been scientific director since 1988), starting from 2006 at the helm of the municipal museums of ancient art, including the Strada Nuova museums (in addition to Palazzo Rosso also Palazzo Bianco and Palazzo Tursi) and from the Museum of Sant ‘Agostino, the art historian Piero Boccardo (Genoa, 1956) withdrew from any role just before the inauguration of the great “SuperBarocco” exhibitions on the Genoese seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, in Rome and Genoa, but not thanks to the pandemic found stopped by National Gallery in Washington Place.

And the management of the exhibition has created many disagreements, up to the resignation in open conflict with the cultural policy of the current municipal council led by Marco Bucci (Genoa, 1962), an entrepreneur with an international career (3M, Eastman Kodak Company and Carestream Health) resident in the United States for twenty years and mayor since 2017. He is nominated by center-right in the June 12 local elections along with (among others) Ariel dello Strologo for center-left.

Dr. Boccardo, what happened?
In the meantime, I would like to confirm that my dismissal is the result of a painful decision, even though I have taken it into consideration several times over the last three very tiring years. It is a decision that is also based on recent events that has made me put my psychophysical well-being before any other motivation. I am left with the satisfaction of having worked for a long time for museums that based their function on ethics, while lately I have seen them all too often prey on more or less obvious personal (and political) interests. Telling the whole story, which lasted more than two years, and the total hostility that the current municipal administration has shown from 2019 to February 2021 towards the exhibition (and its museums), is long and complex, also considering that it current mayor is up for re-election next June. But the carelessness of recent years is clear to me. The current councilor Barbara Grosso has arrived (in September 2018, Elisa Serafini, who resigned after about a year, replaced Oath) without any preparation and significant cultural element, to which was added his bad relationship with the former leader, immediately replaced by another from the Directorate of Taxation and Taxation, certainly an excellent administrative leader, but equally fasting on cultural issues. And here I think a fundamental question arises for Genoa, but more generally for many Italian authorities: the selection of leaders for culture. There almost never, in recent times, have competencies in the sector. It’s a real emergency. During that phase, some external consultants were appointed, defined as “service providers” or more exotic “advisers” (strange for a mayor who claims “genoese” …), who were assigned the management of various cultural actions, which would have been instead of being shared, appropriately, with municipal officials. An operation of genuine cultural obsession, destructive to the Genoese museums and their conservatories, completely subordinate to the events that the administration and the on-duty adviser expect them to be organized (the fugitive is more successful and offers an immediate return of image to it political class), but without guaranteeing either human resources, starting even from the depots, or economic. Money is wasted on “bread and circus”, but the humidifiers that are indispensable for the preservation of the heritage, which is the essential stage of its improvement, are not purchased. Today, the municipality does not seem to have any line and does not respect its officials at all.

What do you mean?
Not only was I hit in a corner, but a similar fate befell Maria Flora Giubilei, director of the Nervi Museums (Gallery of Modern Art in Genoa, the Frugone Collections and the Giannettino Luxoro Museum), which in light of the systematic depreciation of scientific and managerial skills with more than thirty years of experience, he preferred to utilize (with the necessary) “quota 100” to leave, in spite of himself, a much-loved job and, like me, always confronted with total dedication. Suffice it to remember that the municipality had confronted me with the choice of accepting the new and unprecedented role of superintendent (“promoveatur ut amoveatur”) or seeing my salary reduced, and the one replacing me today, the talented Raffaella Besta , was actually reduced compared to mine. In addition to the personal cases, I believe that the change in the name of the management is sufficiently emblematic for the turn that the municipality’s cultural policy has taken: from the department of cultural heritage and youth policy to the department of cultural activities and marketing (please note: in singular, therefore it is only marketing and not the activities relevant to the culture). Not to mention the competition for new officials: generalists and, at least in the original intentions, intended to avoid having “learned officials”, as they, if they do not have specialized skills, can better act as a stop (recent events regarding Galleria d ‘Modern Art and Frugone Collection teacher).
Piero Boccardo has resigned as director of the municipal museums in Genoa since JanuaryThen there was the long history of the exhibition on the Genoese Baroque, in several stages, now underway between Genoa and Rome. But not in Washington as originally planned.
In the spring of 2015, the Chief Curator of the Department of Old Master Prints at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, Jonathan Bober, asked me and Franco Boggero, Historical Art Director of the Superintendence of Liguria, to collaborate on a project on Genoese artistic production between the 17th century and the eighteenth century for the exhibition initiative that the American Museum itself intended to organize. The exhibition, which the Scuderie del Quirinale in Rome will later associate with, is initially planned for 2019/2020, but is then gradually postponed due to the pandemic until the spring of 2022 for the Roman edition (while in August 2021 the American was finally canceled ). Bober had previously contacted the Doge’s Palace to test interest in a possible Genoese partnership, but had received a negative response. I have always kept the managers who have succeeded each other informed about this over the years, agreeing to carry out the cooperation outside working hours and to present the authorization request provided for in the Genoa Municipality’s regulation at the time an official contracts. was presented to me .. But while previous leaders had supported me in this international cooperation, because although Genoa Municipality was not directly involved, the operation was seen as very promotional for the city, and this appreciation was also expressed by the incumbent mayor, unexpectedly instead for the attitude of the present councilor (and in a more ambiguous way the leader) was at first almost of the opposite sign. For this reason, despite the fact that I had requested meetings and information in various ways, I received only hostilities and astonishing accusations of not having sufficiently promoted the image of the municipality or of illegally arranging for the lending of works belonging to the collections under my jurisdiction. But then it was enough, when Washington canceled the exhibition, for me to accept the curatorship of a similar initiative in Genoa (strongly hoped for due to the electoral fallout that would follow from it), for all the almost magical problems to be solved, at. at least apparently: the fact that the three curators of the Rome and Genoa exhibitions were not invited to the dinner after the Genoese inauguration seems to me an eloquent proof …

What do you remember with the greatest joy in your activity for the art and museums of your city?
I have dealt with some of the most beautiful museums in Genoa, and therefore in Italy: Palazzo Rosso, from the beginning of my “career”, and then gradually the museums in Strada Nuova, but also Luxoro, Sant’Agostino, the Ministry of Finance. San Lorenzo, although as a property it belongs to the chapter of the cathedral. Museums, among others, which have seen one of the greatest museographers of the 20th century work within them, not just Italian ones, such as Franco Albini. I confronted with his famous installation in 2002-04, and then again in 2010 and 2016, and closely followed the works that have influenced Palazzo Rosso in various ways, and took care of the rearrangement of entire sections, among which I like to remember the apartment of an art lover, it is the re-enactment of the house designed by Albini for Caterina Marcenaro. And I did the same for Palazzo Bianco, delivering the original design idea for the direct connection to Palazzo Tursi. But I also immediately dedicated myself to exhibition initiatives, first of medium size (“Masters of drawing”, 1990; “Genova and Guercino”, 1992), until from 1994 I was entrusted with the handling of challenging city events of international significance such as. “Van Dyck in Genoa” (1997), “El Siglo de los Genoveses” (1999) and “The Age of Rubens” (2004).

What are the biggest problems at Genoese museums today?
In addition to a general lack of interest and a weakening of the system, in my opinion also contributes to the separation of Palazzo Reale and Palazzo Spinola from Superintendentency (but this is the responsibility of the ministry, not the municipality), the project in which this administration has started: a new city museum, planned in the rooms of the Loggia di Banchi, today blocked by important archaeological finds. But most important are the works at Palazzo Rosso, which has just reopened to the public (see article below), with an insane rush to get there in time for the election. In a completely a priori way, the head of the technical and operational services (ie to be aware of public works and not culture) decided to restore the “Franco Albini Museum”, ie. it (certainly extraordinary) one created through the 50s, without taking into account the long history of the building, which was emerging and without constituting the Scientific Committee, which I had proposed, and which, as it happened in the case of the Museum of the Treasure of San Lorenzo, provided the most appropriate information to solve the various problems associated with a significant adaptation effort. For example, the tapestries from Albini in Palazzo Rosso have been renewed without taking into account the underlying frescoes or marble floors of the nineteenth century. It really seems to me to be an uncritical restoration of Albini and for Albini, without taking due account of the history of the building. Certain architects dominated, the historical artisans responsible for the protection of the palace were not heard and thanks to decades of research and research and comparisons with the Superintendentency and with colleagues from museums around the world … And at a higher level, the difference between monument and museum has not been recognized. That’s enough to justify my resignation.

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