Firenze Restaura 1972 – 2012, a virtual exhibition

Giancarlo Buzzanca, Italia , Anna Mieli, Italia

Authors: Giancarlo Buzzanca, Anna Mieli

The history of the institutions which deal with restoration is, at times, a history read with difficulty from official documents, because it is not yet dormant, because the protagonists are often still our contemporaries.

And thus, even very significant events run the risk of being lost in the great ocean of history not yet completely narrated. This is the case of the exhibition which was held from March to July, 1972 in Florence at the Fortezza da Basso. It was conceived and organized by Umberto Baldini and Paolo dal Poggetto to present, in the 40th year of its foundation, the activities of the Gabinetto Restauri.

In 2012, 40 years after Firenze Restaura, in order to remember this event and to preserve its memory, a virtual exhibition was created. The shared objective of the project’s organizers was that of enhancing and rendering available to the largest possible public an incredibly impressive collection of large-dimension photographs, in black and white and in color (ca. 350) which document the contents of the exhibition rooms, and more than 1,000 photographic negatives and positives related to the works of art and illustrative panels on display. An impressive documentation, as impressive as was the original exhibition which filled 61 rooms with hundreds of displayed works of art.

The entire work of digitizing the original documentation is illustrated in detail.

The database contains 1,300 digital images and 386 descriptive records for the art objects.

But what is a virtual exhibition? To reconstruct the exhibition by basing itself on the archival documents, and to do it in such a way to make it available in the best manner possible. The virtuality is the instrument to guarantee the continuing existence through time of a temporary exhibition. Each room becomes, via the web, explorable one at a time; given the vastness and complexity of the themes dealt with, the rooms have been subdivided into thematic groups.

The added value of the virtual experience is given by:

  • the freedom to navigate the contents with one’s own path, rhythm and in accordance with one’s personal cultural needs

  • the opportunity to enlarge the horizon of knowledge, going from one digital content to another by means of intersecting paths

  • an access to cultural contents by means of a personal computer or mobile device

  • in particular, the ongoing availability through time of an event of limited duration.

MiBACT (Ministero dei Beni e delle Attività Culturali e del Turismo) has published useful advice regarding the definition of virtuality and has produced also the open-source CMS adopted in this realization. Our experience would like to be an exemplary application in which are defined conceptual terms and fundamental concepts. The realization of the website has been created without economic burden on the public administration. The focus of the report will be on concepts and applications. The web needs the capacity to utilize the potentialities of technologies adopted in a context of equilibrium between technical needs and the necessity of representing reality that is rich in content, but also simple and economical.

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