NEWS » Galleria Borghese's malfunctioning air conditioning risks

Galleria Borghese's malfunctioning air conditioning risks

Would you believe that the Galleria Borghese in Rome with 500 thousand visitors and a turnout of 3 million a year has been left for more than two months with malfunctioning air conditioning?

Paintings of Titian, Caravaggio, Raffaello and the sculptures of Bernini and Canova are at risk of being damaged for the unsuitable temperature at which the masterpieces are preserved. 

The Galleria Borghese houses a substantial part of the Borghese collection of paintings, sculptures and antiques begun by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, nephew of Pope Paul V.  

Scipione Borghese was a patron of Bernini and a passionate collector of works by Caravaggio, whose Boy with a basket of fruit, St Jerome Writing and many other masterpieces are present in the collection at the galleria Borghese. Amongst the other renowned paintings there are Titian’s Sacred and Profane love, Raphael's Entombment of Christ and works by Peter Paul Rubens and Federico Barocci.

Temperature, together with humidity are crucial factors in the preservation of works of art. This is why the malfunctioning air conditioning is not only an inconvenient for visitors but a big risk for the works themselves. 

The emergency is recent but the problem is old. The museum asked for a new system more than 4 years ago, one of the two air conditioners was replaced last year but then the reparation stopped for lack of resources. Interventions to rebalance the museum’s temperature have been carried out in the prospective of a more substantial solution. At the moment open windows and the microclimate of the park are helping. But it can’t last as biological and chemical pollution coming from outside the museum could damage the works forever.

The misadministration of Italian cultural heritage has already made the headlines of international newspapers, and once again the question rose over Italy’s ability or willingness to look after its precious cultural heritage.

The expenditure on culture has been dramatically cut year by year. Italy, in spite of the vital role of its art and antiques for tourism, spends only 0.2 per cent of its GDP while France for example spends 1 percent and even Greece is doing better than Italy. 

It is also true that the huge quantity of monuments and antiques in Italy makes it difficult to take care of all of them. 

The new strategy seems to be attracting private donators as it happened with the restoration of the Colosseum and the Trevi fountain.

But as it was shown by Galleria Borghese private investors won’t be enough because there are too many works of art and monuments to protect. There is an evident management problem and so it is clear that without a better management nothing will change even investing more. For this reason, Italy called for the best international talents to manage its leading museums, including Galleria Borghese and Florence’s Uffizi. 

A large amount of money was finally allocated to restore Pompeii but time is running out, as the 75 million Euros granted by the EU has to be used by the end of this year, and according to “Il giornal dell’arte” 30 million of Euros still have to be assigned.

Giulia Lombardo

»Back to: NEWS