In What Is Missing, There Is a Presence

The Tolomeo Museum participates in MuseoMix, an international project exploring new forms of communication
Fabio Fornasari

The importance of technologies in our lives is something well-known for those who visit the Institute for the Blind Francesco Cavazza. But little is known about the community developing a project such as MuseoMix - which took place on November 11 and 12, 2016.

The interesting thing is that in previous months, the communication campaign made it possible to "stress" and put to the test the meaning itself of having opened a museum, which began with the Institute's history. All this thanks to the daily presence on the Web and in social media of Lucilla Boschi, together and with the great passion and availability of the Institute for the Blind and of all the people who work there.

It is also an opportunity to briefly review some aspects discussed during the installation of the museum. Let's begin with the result. It is said at the Tolomeo museum that the Institute for the Blind Francesco Cavazza is not a part of Bologna, it is Bologna. In the sense that it epitomizes many of its features.

There is a close relationship between any part of the city and the city itself. Of belonging and of similarity. If it is true that truth must begin from ourselves, from what reality seems to us, the visit to the museum becomes an opportunity for the visitor to experience things that are similar but not identical. Here more than anywhere else, someone who comes for a visit is recognized as a person who has memory, awareness and a sense of being. In turn, those who visit know that they are not coming only to see a collection of objects. A museum is always a special place where one is vulnerable and where common experiences are shared inside and outside its venue.

Hall of the Tolomeo Museum, Istituto Cavazza, Via Castiglione, Bologna

Such as it is for the Istituto dei ciechi: not only a part of the city but the city itself is also a part of it. As for sea waves, the museum form connects between surface and depth, the abyss.

The Tolomeo museum is the wave, a space that is designed to bring together Bolognese citizens who do not necessarily know their very powerful stories. But they are stories that are alike, that have made the same traces of technologies that are known in different times, in different ways. The Tolomeo museum is therefore a venue where it is possible to look at objects that are placed in a context of technologies, inventions, patents, but also of memories and emotions for those who have used those things. An atlas that situates in time those who look at them, touch them, listen to them in a clearly defined period of their life. The museum is always a place to experience different realities but which resemble us.

The museum was designed to leave an impression of wonder, as did the Cabinet of curiosities originally. Collecting everyday objects for those who use them, but relocated within an extraordinary and wonderful vision.

In our case, not only vision, but also sound. The table placed in the middle of the room, like music, has an incantatory aspect, as a formula of technological magic that brings out the sounds corresponding to the things placed on the table. The table is a device that generates concrete and evocative images, clear and recognizable and made by machines. Its sounds are polished, harmonically correct. This is also a metaphor of the meeting between sound and noise, between pleasant and unpleasant parts. What does not work makes noise and cannot be removed, it has to be reframed into a narrative. It must play a role. After all, storytelling is the first of human inventions. The museum is therefore a field of experimentation and MuseoMix has this task: experience. Can a museum of stories, a museum that tells of the activity of a special group of people be a place for scientific experimentation? Scientific experiments by nature are controlled and replicated; variables are manipulated within. This is the distinctive sign of any scientific method. Incontestable.

Hall of the Tolomeo Museum, Istituto Cavazza, Via Castiglione, Bologna

A museum in that matter leaves no room: the stories that are told stem from a circumscribed reality, specific and relative to a particular community, collected and put in place according to a curatorial vision. The past cannot be manipulated, it is not possible to change and experiment with variables from the past, linked to the past. History cannot repeat itself to measure its new results. Storytelling is, apparently, the opposite of any scientific method. But it can be a scientific method even when it is observed, it describes and explains the real world. It is possible if it includes explanations in a wider framework; when making comparisons between different systems, similar to each other by comparing differences, analyzing similarities. In other words, when a comparative methodology is applied observing elements that can also be measurable, tangible, comparable.

In this sense, the idea about the Tolomeo museum joining the MuseoMix project was created and developed, an international format that, simultaneously, in different countries of the world, provides work tables rethinking through projects, prototypes, the way to tell about museum projects around thoughts and valorization of a communicative nature. These are tables where designers of different backgrounds meet around some issues, exchange on the idea of a museum closed in upon itself, self-sufficient with respect to the environment. This is also a way to build up new audiences, to attract them.

Hall of the Tolomeo Museum, Istituto Cavazza, Via Castiglione, Bologna

The project consists of the creation of working groups that will discuss topics identified by the museum, where the museum itself, consciously, thinks it can improve its relationship with the visitor. After all it is an enhancement project. MuseoMix is an open community comprised of various culture, technology and innovation enthusiasts sharing a vision: open museums, participatory and connected. MuseoMix is a different way of enjoying museums. Among its objectives, it means to determine responses to the needs of the whole community, in the city and beyond.


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