Mario Resca is slated to take on Italy’s museum management. Francis X. Rocca gives a thumbnail portrait of the man and the challenge in the Wall Street Journal:
With a highly varied résumé, including stints as a Versace Group director, as president of Italy’s American Chamber of Commerce, and most famously (or notoriously) as chairman of McDonald’s Italia, Mr. Resca is used to new assignments. Just a few months ago, the Italian financial press reported that he was about to take over the faltering national airline, Alitalia.
Instead, the self-described turnaround specialist has taken on what he calls an even bigger challenge: serving Italy’s Culture Minister Sandro Bondi as “adviser on value-adding for museums.” Assuming that a proposed law makes it through Parliament, he will become the first director-general — what Mr. Bondi calls a “supermanager” — of 464 nationally owned museums and archaeological sites, including such world treasures as Florence’s Uffizi Gallery and the ancient ruins at Pompeii. [ . . . ]
None of Italy’s museums is among the world’s top 10 in terms of visitors, he says, and in order to change that, the visiting experience must become more user-friendly and “fun.”
He points in particular to Pompeii — Italy’s most popular site with 2.6 million visitors in 2007 — where littering, looting and the dilapidation of 2,000-year-old buildings and frescoes prompted the government this summer to declare a “state of emergency.” His concerns extend beyond conservation to issues of marketing and service.
(More details after the jump.)
“As a client of the Italian cultural system I am frustrated,” Mr. Resca says. “The museum attendants don’t smile, they are depressed. Some of the museums are not physically clean. There is no signage, there is no communication, there is nothing to tell me, ‘I want you to come and visit me.'”
Anyone who has read a museum guidebook or even a respectable newspaper in this country knows how low a value Italian culture places on clarity and accessibility. When Mr. Resca speaks of “customer satisfaction” and “placing the client at the center of our attention,” he is flouting the guild-like mentality that dominates Italy’s public institutions, and much of the private sector, too, whereby an organization exists to serve the interests of those who run and work in it, not its putative beneficiaries. [ . . . ]
The supermanager’s arrival may be personally alarming to some of the culture ministry’s 23,000 employees, since he backs the recently declared campaign by Renato Brunetta, Italy’s minister of public functions, against fannulloni (“slackers”) on the public payroll. Reducing absenteeism and inefficiency will be among his priorities, Mr. Resca says, though for now he is avoiding confrontational language and playing up the search for harmony.
A Turnaround Specialist Takes on Italy’s Museums (Wall Street Journal)