Corona restrictions put an end to selfie tourism

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Corona restrictions put an end to selfie tourism

The corona crisis helps the Florentine Museum of the Uffizi to choose quality. The museum director expects selfie tourism to end.

A million fewer visitors and ten million euros less in the drawer. That is the damage that the Uffizi, one of the world’s most famous museums, has suffered so far (mid April 2020, EK) from the corona crisis. “But we have broad shoulders and can bear this loss,” said Eike Schmidt, director of the Uffizi in Florence. The museum is famous for top works such as “Spring” by Botticelli and the “Annunciation” by Leonardo Da Vinci. The museum also has one of the most important Old Masters collections outside the Netherlands.

Due to the forced closure due to lockdown (since March 9, 2020), the museum has occopied itself with a virtual art experience. The digitization of the collection has been completed at an accelerated pace, so that the paintings can now be admired wherever the internet is located. The website also contains narrative images (or ‘stories’, as it is called in social media), such as the Easter story based on paintings from the collection.

4.4 million tickets

The corona crisis has strengthened the German director’s conviction that things have to change in the future. In recent decades, the pressure on his museum, which covers a fairly small area, has intensified. 4.4 million tickets were sold last year. A large number of people come to the museum just for a photo for a painting by Botticelli or Raphael. According to Schmidt, this kind of “selfie” tourism must come to an end. “I expect it will be over in a few years when technology becomes available that can mimic the selfie experience.”

He thinks it should, because the casual visit does not go hand in hand with, among other things, the educational role of the museum. “I want visitors to be able to see the collection in peace, I want to view it slowly,” says Schmidt with a nod to the slow food movement (taking time for food and its preparation). He is helped by the current corona restrictions.

Gap between quality and mass tourism

Schmidt knows what awaits him after the corona crisis. “An even larger crowd than before will come to the museum. It was the same after the flooding of the Arno in 1966. People also flocked when the Uffizi were closed for a few months in 1992 because of the consequences of a bomb attack. ”

Slow viewing is in contrast to the popularity of the museum. The Uffizi want to solve that gap between quality and mass tourism by spreading the visitors as much as possible by, among other things, opening at night and stimulating visitors in the dead (winter) months as well as by digital viewing. The Uffizi have also taken care of two relatively unknown Florentine museums. With the same ticket, people can now also visit the archaeological museum. This way, visitors are more widely distributed.


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(Foto article: Uffizi during lockdown, Copyright: La Repubblica)

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