The doorway to the renovated Museo della Civiltà in Rome, within the EUR district – Courtesy Museo delle Civiltà, Rome / Giorgio Benni
What does “civilization” imply? Upon getting into one of many many sections of the renovated Museum of Civilizations in Rome, one is greeted like this… with a query that’s above all a questioning of the political and cultural cornerstones on which the West has established itself in the remainder of the world. Civilization as progress? Civilization like definition of a system of guidelines of life thought-about superior, extra superior than different cultural fashions? The place we’re speaking about, situated within the EUR, is likely one of the most vital exhibition realities within the capital, the results of a latest reorganization operation – ordered in 2016 by the Franceschini administration – of assorted ethnographic, historic and historical-artistic collections, together with the well-known Pigorini Museum, the Giuseppe Tucci Museum of Oriental Artwork, the Museum of the Early Center Ages, the Ilaria Alpi Italo-African Museum (previously the Colonial Museum), the Museum of Common Arts and Traditions.
The complexity of this aggregation, in lots of respects problematic and maybe incongruous given the heterogeneity of the reveals on show and the historical past of the person collections (above all, the precious Museum of the Early Center Ages stays a “overseas physique”, or consider the part inaugurated a couple of days fa of the Ispra assortment, devoted to “animals, crops, rocks and minerals”), instantly highlighted the necessity for an effort of interpretation, corresponding to to supply types of dialogue with guests. All of the extra in consideration of the historical-cultural criticalities which are inevitably linked to the constitutive occasions of a few of these museums, born within the final century (however the first nucleus of Pigorini dates again to 1876), partly to accommodate objects from pioneering exploration campaigns and of research, but additionally by navy enterprises and colonial insurance policies.
The reconfiguration of those collections couldn’t escape a piece of updating and revision of the fashions that had impressed them: and it’s exactly across the evolutionary idea of “civilization” that a big a part of the query revolves, or quite the concept dominant peoples can subjugate others within the identify of an alleged development in method and life. Fascinated about the ideas which have guided, and guiltily justified, the enterprises of conquest of typically defenseless and susceptible peoples, immediately turns into an urgency that’s on the similar time cultural, historic and humanitarian: this is likely one of the paths which, amid so many uncertainties and issues, can result in the so-called decolonization of property.
With these premises, the administration of the Mu-Civ in Rome has undertaken with its reopening a brave course of “of progressive and radical revision” which goals to rewrite “its historical past, its institutional ideology and its analysis and pedagogical methodologies” . A mandatory effort additionally to recontextualize the collections of the previous colonial museum, established in 1923 and which grew to become the museum of Italian Africa in 1935, then dismembered and steadily fell into oblivion. And it appears attention-grabbing to research the methods chosen to begin a metamorphosis which, with a purpose to receive concrete outcomes, will contain systematic and long-term work.
Along with the progressive modernization of the exhibition halls, for the time being notably evident above all within the enhancement of Pigorini – for too lengthy mortified by a very anachronistic set up – the museum has chosen above all to “converse” to its public: it does so by way of very articulated interpretative captions , but additionally making use of the mediation of vital interventions developed by resident artists from «different areas of the world» (Congo, Brazil, Palestine, Colombia, Australia), who supply a special and post-colonial take a look at the heritage of a museum so strongly influenced by Eurocentrism. The “speaking radiators” of the anthropologist Elizabeth Povinelli can’t escape, painted in yellow and black and bearers of alarmed testimonies on the way forward for the human species and the planet Earth, signed Aimé Cesaire, Denise Ferreira Da Silva, Kim Tallbear.
The reconfigured museum thus seeks to imagine coherence and id, telling a “story of the Anthropocene” that develops on a minimum of two channels of battle: that of males who dominate different males and that of males who dominate the planet. The themes developed are essentially the most problematic ones: decolonization, the steadiness between peoples and cultures, the local weather disaster which above all means reflection on the future of humanity and on the restoration between nature and tradition.
Works bought or produced for this exhibition venue take care of the theme of the id of peoples and sustainability (in a broad sense), but additionally with reconciliation and recognition of range. As typically occurs in memorial museums, modern artwork is entrusted (the director is Andrea Viliani, already on the helm of the Madre di Napoli) with the duty of translating the moral message and accompanying it in direction of the conscience of the guests, principally bringing again the good questions in regards to the expertise of people: as within the case of the exhibition Remark un petit chasseur païen devient Prêtre Catholique by the Congolese Georges Senga who, by way of the story of the Jesuit Bonaventure Salumu, addresses the controversial relationship between Western tradition, religion and a return to origins; or in that of Ali Cherri’s documentary movie (The Digger, 2015), which reveals – in 25 minutes of silence, dazzling gentle and solitude – the story of Zeib Khan, for twenty years the affected person guardian of the Neolithic website of Jebel Al Behais, situated within the desert of the United Arab Emirates. The work, in Pashtu and Arabic with English subtitles, accompanies the rooms of the prehistoric collections; within the intentions of the curators, it affords «a second of shared reflection on the idea of civilization, ranging from supplies and authors of its basis and, extra typically, on the anthropogenic period and its modern musealization».
The experimentation of the MuCiv seems vital and has received a good consensus; nevertheless, two respectful recommendations needs to be made. The primary considerations the eye to the non-expert public, in direction of which the transmission of sure messages would require an effort of better accessibility. The recommendations proposed, the hyperlinks to the modern world, the extraordinary citations of “speaking radiators” (principally in English) are of nice impression, however presuppose a earlier consciousness that the typical customer hardly possesses (many years later, it’s pleasing to notice how Pigorini has maintained its engaging energy in direction of households and faculty teams).
The nice alternative for a museum that decides to undertake such a problem consists, for my part, in offering its public with the instruments to develop political consciousness and a need to take part. The second suggestion is aimed on the use product of the collections, their historical past and their cultural worth: the elaboration of an sincere, self-reflexive studying shouldn’t override the valorisation of heritages and their contextualization. In an operation strongly centered on “radical rethinking”, there’s a threat of remodeling the supplies on show into instruments for a reconciliation with the previous which might slide in direction of a brand new type of colonization, that’s, right into a misrepresentation of products that belong to different cultures and which most people nonetheless doesn’t admire besides of their otherness (now exhibited as wound and never submitted, however nonetheless disadvantaged of its that means and its roots). The rethinking of the Museo delle Civiltà undoubtedly represents a rare, thrilling alternative for development for residents and museum audiences, but additionally for the group of students who’re referred to as upon to develop new interpretations. An interdisciplinary comparability on the trail undertaken might additional enrich the stimuli of a proposal that deserves encouragement and full consideration.