Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Some Thoughts on Museums After Reading Tomislav Šola. Part II - Museo del Novecento

read part 1 

A study no one asked for 

from rather unstructured thoughts on museums and art centers in CIS countries inspired by Tomislav Šola's book extract, I would like to finally share some observations and findings that turned my unplanned visit to Museo del Novecento in Milan to a small unsolicited consulting initiative. 

My exult from new museum opening almost three years ago, back in December 2010, has been slightly changing to irritation and the last visit concluded my mixed feelings into final decision that despite its great collection, heritage and filling an empty gap and need for such a museum on Milan's, if not whole Italy's cultural map, it is a triumph of architecture over functionality and visitor experience

Museo del Novecento (aka 900 Museum) is one of the museums that in the quest for creating an unforgettable experience reaches the purpose by punishing the visitors who leave its walls with sore legs from needless walk: as a visitor who went there three or four times since its inauguration, I was frustrated and tired of my multiple failures to reach the open space area to enjoy the best in my opinion view to Duomo square for free (FYI, on certain days and hours before closing time some museums do not charge entry fee). 

This is where I was aiming to go to enjoy the view. Succeeded on the 4th attempt

As in Šola's example when an art museum director to a question whether there was a place to drink a cup of coffee in his museum replied that he would love to have one, but the architect did not permit it, the architect Stefano Boeri did not care for me nor any other visitor short in time and willing to explore art or reach certain parts of the building without unnecessary exploration of his architectural wonder - a made-on-purpose labyrinth-like space. As a visitor I found myself trapped in a sequence of escalators some of which work only one-way, so as in a department store in which one is forced to cross entire floor (which is done on purpose to incite an impulse shopping act), a visitor has to cross half of the museum in order to get back to the previous spot. In my particular case, it took up to 10 minutes and two stops to ask for directions, first I walked all the way to the restaurant, then went back to the ground floor, then had to repeat my ascent and descent once again but on different levels. I remembered about a spacious area with round windows and comfy sofas to get some rest before continuing my quest that should have been on my way anyway, but I never found itMy irritation and fatigue were growing exponentially to the time lost in these arty labyrinths. However, to reward my spatialization failure,  the Fatum or a Museum God brought me to the area of kinetic art that I kept on skipping all the previous times due to another shortfall. I vaguely remember the audio guide briefly mentioning* it as something one can later return to check out while proposing to continue exploration of Futurism and Modern art exposition omitted the fact that at the end of the audio tour a visitor is asked to descend and immediately finds himself in the ground floor guided to the exit with little independence to decide what to do. I suppose very few remembered about that turn to the left on some floor and even if they did the hassle to get back and try to find that path turned down many in the middle of their journey.

At the end, I reached the area I wanted to go and I had a second discovery of the day - Lucio Fontana's room. The result of this second discovery are few images below together with some problems spotted and potential solutions.

I don't expect the museum to react or follow up, but if they are I really hope they will at least raise the level on which their signage to paintings are placed (check out the sixth image below with the photos of bending visitors). 

In addition, what kind of audience does the museum target in the mornings (10:00 to 12:30) and afternoons (15:00-17:00) in the middle of a working week? Even housewives are busy! This is very sad... well as this...  

*Another part of me suggests that the audio guide did not even mention about kinetic art - something I should probably check next time I take friends visiting me in Milan.

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