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3.3.04

Expanding the Uffizi

Rossi Melocchi, La Galleria degli UffiziThe western wing of the Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence was damaged and several works of art were harmed and a couple destroyed on May 27, 1993, when a car carrying a powerful bomb exploded outside the museum, in an attack thought to have been carried out by the Sicilian Mafia. The human toll included five people killed and about 40 injured, crimes for which several Mafia bosses were convicted. (The museum's courtyard is shown at right, in an illustration by Rossi Melocchi.)

It appears that the museum has recovered from that terrible day, since I have been reading recent reports about the plans to expand the Uffizi: see John Hooper's article (Uffizi to double in size as Italy tries to outdo Louvre, February 26) in The Guardian; and Jean-Jacques Bozonnet's article (La Galerie des Offices double sa superficie d'exposition [The Uffizi Gallery doubles its exhibition space], February 25) in Le Monde. The latter takes up the question of how the work in the museum will be financed:

Once planned and put into effect in less than a year, the project will cost around 60 million euros ($75 million). It symbolizes the present cultural politics of the Italian government: a private sponsor, Benetton, is taking part in the financing, with the city of Florence, and the Ministry of Culture.
This is great news for art lovers: as I have reported here before (see post on February 1, Forgotten Paintings at the Uffizi?), the Uffizi is constrained by the space it inhabits and is unable to exhibit as many works in their remarkable collection as they should. As far as the Uffizi's hopes of competing with the Louvre and with the museums in Madrid, I have also reported here on plans to expand the Louvre (see post on February 16, Rebuilding History). Is this the cultural equivalent of the arms race?

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