First family of fotos

National museum of photography opens for Alinari

Editorial Staff
October 19, 2006

Does Florence really need another museum? After all, the city is already crowded with hundreds of them that feature a vast array of genres and areas of interest. Certainly there’s already enough to keep people flying in and lining up at the crack of dawn to see paintings, sculpture, inventions, skeletons, manuscripts and maps.But maybe, just maybe—there’s room for one more—since there’s nothing like capturing life through a camera lens. And in the age of mass digital photography, it’s not a bad idea to remember the first daysof photAlinari is the world’s oldest photographic archive and was established in Florence in 1852. With its 3.5 million images from around the world, the Fratelli Alinari Foundation is actively dedicated to preserving the history of photography. It has recently made an agreement with the city of Florence and been granted several spaces in which to display this enormous collection. The museum will inaugurate its new headquarters on Oct. 28 in the former Leopoldine convent in Piazza Santa Maria Novella.


It will be a great museum dedicated to the youngest of the figurative arts, which couldn’t have been born anywhere else but a city so famous for its cultural heritage, said Edoardo Speranza, president of the Ente Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze, one of the museum’s main sponsors. ‘With Claudio de Polo we have made great efforts to fill a hole in the art world. Today we are celebrating the success of the project,’ Speranza concluded.


The new museum will be divided into three different areas. The first will be an exhibition space for collections concerning themes of historical and contemporary photography organized by the MNAF or hosted on the basis of agreements with important and prestigious international institutions. The museum plans for at least five to eight exhibition vents a year dedicated to photography. A second area is to be a permanent museum space devoted to the history and technique of photography, including original vintage photographs that guide visitors through the development of various techniques used by well known photographers. The museum itinerary includes a series on 19th and 20th-century masters, and a section on contemporary Italian and international photography. The third area will be devoted to educational activities, such laboratories for children, photographic restoration workshops and illustrations by famous contemporary photographers.


On a revolutionary note, Alinari will be using advanced multimedia technology, including interactive exposition, e-learning cultural programs for disabled visitors, 3-dimensional immersive navigation helmets and goggles, tables and photographs that change colour according to one’s mood, and photography printing on demand with high quality image reproduction. In addition, the Alinari Museum of Photography has plans to run an ongoing project called BRICKS, which involves using digital blocks to allow European digital collections to ‘talk’ to each other. Due to the outstanding and unique collection, the cutting edge technology involved, and the importance of the BRICKS project, the Alinari museum has been referred to as a necessary reference point in the educational and cultural field for Europe.

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