The New York Times reports on the battle between the city of Florence and the Italian government over the ownership of Michelangelo’s statue “David.” Florence’s mayor, Matteo Renzi, is pushing the issue for broader political and economic reasons:
But for critics like Mr. Renzi, who at 35 is a rising star of the Italian center-left, the Culture Ministry is besieged by an elephantine bureaucracy and an outmoded view of its mandate that effectively resists any attempt at modernization.
“Culture in Italy is in the hands of people who may know everything about Vasari” but are afraid to open up to change, he said. His administration, on the other hand, “wants to view culture as economic development,” offering improved services, like longer opening hours for museums, so that the city can be more competitive for tourist dollars, he said.
Last year, the ministry created a new division — a directorate of museums — to make better use of the commercial potential of its cultural heritage. But resistance has been very vocal, both from within the ministry ranks, as well as from members of the cultural intelligentsia who fear over-commercialization.
Who Owns Michelangelo’s David? (New York Times)