A new Scale of greatness. The 2024-2025 activities of the Antico Ospedale Santa Maria della Scala Foundation in Siena presented – Carlo Franza's blog

The activities and 2024-2025 programming of the Antico Ospedale Santa Maria della Scala Foundation were presented. “We have finally arrived at presenting a project formed and defined for the artistic and cultural value of this …

A new Scale of greatness.  The 2024-2025 activities of the Antico Ospedale Santa Maria della Scala Foundation in Siena presented – Carlo Franza's blog

The activities and 2024-2025 programming of the Antico Ospedale Santa Maria della Scala Foundation were presented. “We have finally arrived at presenting a project formed and defined for the artistic and cultural value of this city” – begins the Mayor of Siena Nicoletta Fabio at the press conference for the relaunch of the Santa Maria della Scala Foundation.

An event of importance immediately appeared until the Mayor invited those present to listen to “our idea of ​​a museum, wisely and courageously, built by president Cristiano Leoneby the director Chiara Valdambrini and by the Board of Directors of the Foundation everything”.

In addition to the importance of the conservation of the site and its immense historical and artistic heritage, a priority of the Foundation, the Mayor underlined the importance of valorising the museum complex, which aims to return to being a point of reference for the entire citizenry and for tourists.

«No work of art was created to be just preserved» – adds the Mayor. «It is sacrosanct and necessary to give future generations the opportunity to be with these objects and enjoy their presence as we do, but in the meantime the most immediate responsibility is to involve and nourish the people of the present. That is, to be truly contemporary.”

President Cristiano Leone takes the floor with triple thanks to the Administration, to the members of the Board of Directors – Niccolò Fiorinivice president; Viviana Castelli, Francesco PiroliAnd Massimiliana Quartesan – presented for the first time on this public occasion, and to the Director Chiara Valdambrini – and with her to the entire Foundation team.

This is followed by the exposition of the vision of the new Santa Maria della Scala – «A new Scale of grandeur», reads the opening slide of the presentation.

“To relaunch the Santa Maria della Scala” – explains President Cristiano Leone – “we decided to intervene immediately with four actions that we believe are fundamental for the future of the institution: 1) managerial structuring of the Foundation and intention to expand the shareholder structure, with the entry proposal formulated towards the Ministry of Culture and the Tuscany Region; 2) redefinition and refunctionalization of the monumental construction site, with the invitation to four world-famous star architects – Barozzi Veiga, Odile Decq, LAN Studio, Hannes Peer – to take part in a series of meetings, which will take place starting this month and which will lead to a competition of ideas to establish a Architectural, urban and museographic masterplan, to rethink the huge works, still underway, to refunction the spaces of the Old Hospital; 3) one ambitious artistic and cultural programmingcoherent and international in scope, with an alternation of heritage and contemporary exhibitionsa performance festival entitled “Xenos”, to make Santa Maria a place of research, study, innovation, artistic and cultural diffusion: a new agora, in short, in which the idea of ​​Wellbeing linked to cultural enjoyment will become the common thread of every action undertaken by the Foundation; 4) structured and cutting-edge communicationstarting from the construction of the graphic identity of the foundation to the narrative of the institution on social media, passing through a new website and the extension of the audio guide app designed together with the Municipality thanks to the funds of a PNRR tender”.

Managerial commitment, extension of the shareholder structure, sponsorship campaign, opening of two positions. In fact, it is underlined that a museum complex of exceptional importance, such as the SMS, requires the joint support of many forces among its public partners: in addition to the great commitment shown by the founding partner, the Municipality of Siena, the involvement of the MiC was immediately requested , with which technical meetings have already opened, but also of the Region and, hopefully, of the two universities of the city, which it is hoped will be able to assume an increasingly decisive role in the future of the institution.

In addition to the shareholder structure, in the next few months the Foundation will open a membership campaign for private partners and sponsors, who will be able to help support the Foundation through concrete projects. The Foundation also intends to present itself as a place where citizens, and the best students of the city's two universities, can also find work. This is why the Board of Directors wanted to send a strong signal, immediately opening two positions, “Institutional secretariat, cultural promotion, communication coordination and social media specialist” and “Teaching and communication assistant”. museum education”.

Masterplan. We then move on to the presentation of the first steps to build the architectural and museographic future of the institution. The uniqueness of the architectural story of the Santa Maria della Scala is reflected in the stratification of its spaces, admirable for those who overlook the square, but also for those who walk along the 'ditch of Sant'Ansano' behind it. There are at least seven different architectural levels that rise from the slopes of the Cathedral hill, enclosing courtyards, welfare, functional and cultural spaces of representation. A building progression that led in a relatively short period of time, between the end of the 12th century and the mid-15th century, to a complex distribution and organization of the internal spaces.

At the beginning of the 90s, the Santa Maria della Scala ended its hospital function and began its transformation in 1996 by the architect Guido Canali, winner in 1992 of an International Competition by invitation, who began, without completing it, the metamorphosis of the entire complex.

Guido Canali's general project aimed to underline the great complexity of the building organism and therefore envisaged the presence of an equal complexity of functions and activities interrelated with each other. In detail, Permanent Museums (partially built); Halls for Temporary Exhibitions (partially built); Conference rooms (Italo Calvino completed, with 300 seats); Laboratories/Libraries (partially built); Related and Service Activities. The winning project also included an Auditorium, not yet built.

From the end of the 90s to today, the very idea of ​​a museum has changed profoundly. The importance of a new reflection was therefore recognized which, starting from the Canali project, identifies the new priorities and needs, today, in the use of the museum space. First of all, there is a problem of accessibility and inclusiveness which requires reconfiguring a large part of the visit route, which due to the complex architectural structure but also the variety of cultural institutions hosted within the Santa Maria della Scala, is currently not readable and often a source of interpretative misunderstandings as well as difficulties in accessing it for some categories of the public.

Some internationally recognized architects have therefore been identified who have accepted the Foundation's invitation to begin a journey in three stages: the first will take place this June 17th, with an initial inspection. A return will then follow on the occasion of the ISOCARP Conference, which will be held at the Santa Maria della Scala (9-12 October).

A competition of ideas will then open, which will allow an international jury to select a winner from among the four invited studios, who will be entrusted with the creation of a general Masterplan which will transform Santa Maria della Scala, making it a place open to the city, through a new museographic itinerary which will include, among other innovations, a room dedicated to the history of the hospital. It will be carried out jointly with the University of Siena; this project will be discussed in preview during the Bright Night on September 27th.

The four architectural firms selected are: Barozzi Veiga, Odile Decq, Hannes Peer, and Studio LAN.

Three-year exhibitions 2024-2026 – President Leone and Director Valdambrini then presented the lines of action of the Foundation's artistic and cultural programming. The program of exhibitions for the next three years intends to build a bridge between different generations, cultures, eras and places, to reconstruct fragments of the past, through today, to create new shared memories projected towards tomorrow.

Therefore, every year two large exhibitions will alternate, one with a heritage imprint, but with incursions of contemporaneity, and one of contemporary art built to celebrate some aspects of the historical, artistic and cultural heritage of the institution.

The artistic identity of the Foundation will be shaped to recall the centuries-old history of the hospital, in which care and attention to others become the conceptual pivot in the current transformation of the museum complex, which becomes the ground for experimenting with the fundamental equation Heritage cultural = Well-being, which will be reflected in all the actions that will be promoted.

Dialogue between times, therefore, through a common thread that will connect the past to the future, in the name of interaction and participation between the public, the Santa Maria della Scala as a complex architecture, a container of masterpieces, and a space open to experimentation, to research, innovation and cultural diffusion and sharing.

“The artistic and cultural program of the Foundation breaks the usual patterns and carries out experimental flights, maintaining an ever-present common thread: that of the value of the past, of the roots that nourish what is still the Santa Maria della Scala today, but which is also capable of creating new memories, kaleidoscopic, participatory and projected into the future” – comments the Director. And finally I add, while waiting to give voice to all the scheduled exhibitions, that managing a museum like this, and with an enlightening President, is highly to be framed such a culturally lively and even more managerially prudent management.

Carlo Franza