Fire guts historic Toronto church, destroying its Group of Seven murals
June 10, 2024
Feud between Frankenthaler Foundation’s current and former leaders drags on
June 11, 2024
Fire guts historic Toronto church, destroying its Group of Seven murals
June 10, 2024
Feud between Frankenthaler Foundation’s current and former leaders drags on
June 11, 2024

A museum on the island of Lampedusa dedicated to migrants who have lost their lives crossing the Mediterranean Sea has been closed as prime minister Giorgia Meloni ramps up efforts to stop the boats.

The Museum of Faith and Dialogue had hosted 75,000 visitors since opening seven years ago on the upper floor of Lampedusa’s Pelagie Archaeological Museum. Displays in five rooms included items found at sea following shipwrecks, an Eritrean child’s drawing testifying to the torture he experienced in his home country and a multimedia room where video and recorded sounds helped visitors imagine crossing the Mediterranean in a small boat.

The 3 October Committee, an NGO founded after the death of 368 migrants during a 2013 shipwreck off Lampedusa, was previously given permission to use the 500 sq. m space free of charge. However, following a change of management at the Pelagie, it was asked to pay €10,000 to rent a smaller space of roughly 40 sq. m for a year.

One of the displays featuring found objects

The committee responded that it was unable to fund the venture and would not reopen the museum after its closure for the summer in June. “I very much regret that, despite the efforts and work done, there was and is no will to continue to have a museum dedicated to migration in Lampedusa,” Tareke Brhane, the committee’s president, said in a statement.

The Museum of Faith and Dialogue was born in June 2016 as a year-long display spearheaded by Italy’s culture ministry together with the Sicily region and the municipality of Lampedusa. The exhibition at the Pelagie museum featured Carravaggio’s Amorino dormiente (1608), loaned from the Uffizi, alongside Islamic art and migrants’ possessions found at sea. At the inauguration, President Sergio Mattarella of Italy said: “I am here in Lampedusa to inaugurate this museum because culture unites peoples and it is an important means of encounter”.

Following the exhibition, in 2017, the committee renewed the museum with a three-year protocol signed with the education ministry and the municipality. The protocol was extended for a further three years in 2020.

However, in March of this year, the Archaeological Park of Valle Templi in Agrigento was appointed by government decree to run the Pelagie museum as part of a broader shake up of museums in Agrigento and Lampedusa.

In a letter dated 13 May, which has been seen by The Art Newspaper, the new management asked the committee to pay an annual fee of €10,000 for two rooms at the Pelagie, adding that future cultural activities should be agreed with the management. The committee was given five days to respond.

More than 30,000 migrants have drowned trying to reach Italy’s shores in the last seven years, according to the International Organisation for Migration. Giorgia Meloni’s tough line on migration is expected to culminate later this year when she begins sending adult males intercepted at sea to newly-built camps in Albania.

A spokesperson for the 3 October Committee tells The Art Newspaper that they did not believe the introduction of a rent for the museum was politically motivated. They added that the committee had begun discussions with municipalities of Lampedusa and Agrigento, next year’s Italian capital of culture, about moving the museum’s contents to a new location.

First appeared on…

Comments are closed.