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Naples: an open museum

14.01.2016. Art & culture

Naples is a fascinating place, but it’s not the world’s most affluent municipality, and as a result, many of its artistic or architectural treasures are closed to visitors, generally due to lack of staff. So it’s heartening to read of a new initiative, Napoli Museo Aperto, designed both to provide jobs for culturally-minded young people and to expand the city’s sightseeing map.

From mid-February, initially for an experimental period of six months, thirty cultural sites will be opened or have visitor access extended thanks to a project that will provide paid, part-time work for around 250 specially-trained guides between the ages of 18 and 29.

The list of sites include the twelfth-century church of San Giovanni a Mare, near the port, with its Romanesque arches recalling those of Amalfi’s cathedral, and the recently restored ruota or ‘orphans’ wheel’ in the exterior wall of the church and former orphanage of Santa Annunziata, where desperate mothers could deposit unwanted babies – either because they were illegitimate or because they were unable to support them (a practice which lies behind the common Neapolitan surname Esposito – literally ‘left out in the open’).

In addition to the thirty churches, palazzos and museums, the young guides are also being assigned to ten of Naples’ Stazioni dell’arte, metro stations designed with the active collaboration of contemporary artists that include Mimmo Paladino, Anish Kapoor and Rebecca Horn. Toledo station, pictured above, was voted Europe’s most beautiful metro station by Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper; designed by Catalan architect Óscar Tusquets, it features mosaics by South African artist William Kentridge.

In typical Neapolitan style, a laudable project is not accompanied (at least at the time of writing) by a functioning website, but Sirenuse Journal readers with some grasp of Italian will find the complete list of Napoli Museo Aperto sights in this local newspaper article.

Photo © Roberto Salomone

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