Is Art moving out?

Michelangelos David could be the first

Editorial Staff
January 24, 2008

A controversial proposal to move one of Florence’s most visited masterpieces to the outskirts of the city has spurred heated debate among politicians and residents alike. Tuscan culture chief Paolo Cocchi sent shock waves throughout the art world when he  suggested moving Michelangelo’s heroic marble statute from the Galleria dell’Accademia in an effort to relieve congestion in the highly frequented city centre.


Cocchi has suggested transferring the 4.34 metre statue to the future location of Maggio Musicale’s auditorium, near the ex-Stazione Leopolda. However the building will not be completed until 2010 or 2011. A senator in former premier Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party, Paolo Amato, called Cocchi’s idea a ‘bizarre stunt’ aimed at getting free publicity for of the new theatre, which is said to be the pet project of Italian culture minister Francesco Rutelli.


Figures suggest that 1.3 million tourists travel to Florence each year to see the David and other artistic and architectural treasures in the city. According to Cocchi, ‘Florence has reached an unsustainable level of tourists. The actual site of David in the centre of town is logistically unfortunate. It would be beneficial for everyone to move it so that the tourist area can be enlarged and decongested’. Cocchi has gone as far as Rome to argue his case by writing a letter to Francesco Rutelli. He also wrote to Florence mayor Leonardo Domenici, but reports suggest he has not received a response from either.


While speaking at a press conference in Rome on the Tramvia, Domenici commented about the damage tourists leave behind: ‘We have to spend huge sums of money to remove chewing gum stuck on the outside walls of the Accademia’, he said. But he did not support the idea of moving the famed statue—at least not for now: ‘I believe that the response to the problems of mass tourism requires study and analysis. Everything is up for discussion and everything has its time. I don’t believe that the question of David will be among our immediate priorities’.


The David has stood in the Galleria dell’Accademia since 1873, when it was moved from its original position in Piazza della Signoria to help protect it from the elements. In a sharp response to Cocchi’s proposal, head of the Polo Museale Fiorentino, Cristina Acidini, argued ‘There are very good historical reasons why the David is in the Accademia’, recalling the city’s decision to keep the Renaissance masterpiece in the heart of the city, just a few hundreds yards from the Duomo.


Acidini pointed to the millions of euro the city has spent to clean the statue and install special anti-pollution systems in the museum. Alluding to the idea that moving the iconic statue may be viewed as a publicity stunt, she commented, ‘I don’t think the possibility of moving David should be raised in such an impromptu mannerIt can’t just be used to aid the upgrade of an outlying district like the ex-station where the new ‘music park’ is envisaged’.

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