Though Italy is widely known as a centre of art and culture, last year's exhibits did not attract as many visitors as did other nation's shows, according to a survey published by the Art Newspaper. In a ranking of the world's most visited temporary exhibitions in 2008, Italy took the very ‘modest' places of 43rd, 126rd and 134rd.
The top spots in the rankings went to The Treasures of Shoso-in, held in Nara, Japan, which pulled in 17,926 daily visitors on average; followed by Tokyo's Treasures of the Temple of Yakushi-ji exhibit, with 12,762 visitors daily; and Images of Night, at Paris' Grand Palais, with 10,327 visitors daily.
Italy's most popular temporary exhibit in 2008 was Correggio in Parma, which ran from September 20, 2008 to January 26, 2009 and drew 3,946 visitors a day, 433,483 in total. At a distant second was Giovanni Bellini, held at Rome's Scuderie del Quirinale from September 30, 2008 to January 11, 2009, which attracted an average of 2,176 visitors a day, 194,330 in total.
Why such low numbers for Italy? According to president of Skira publishers, Massimo Vitta Zelman, the problem is that Italy's main museums, like the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, do not often hold temporary events; these are often held in smaller, more out-of-the way places.
‘Italy is not competitive at the international level because here exhibits are not hosted in our most important museums but in spaces that do not have permanent collections; abroad, the world's largest museums also host events and temporary exhibits, thus offering two elements of attraction and two sets of visitors.'