Today I am writing a story that is long overdue. Two years ago I attended a brief two-months education in business planning for artists. The school I attended was sharing the courtyard with a very special museum, Museo Omero, in the Italian city of Ancona.
First let me give you a little bit of context. Ancona is a city in Italy, on the Adriatic coast, and it is located in the Marche region. In terms of landscapes, the area looks incredibly similar to its more famous neighbour, Toscana (Tuscany). Green fields, historical towns with castles and fortresses, it is a simple description. Additionally, the two region share a similarity in the feel good vibes typical for Italy in general.
On the other hand, Ancona is not a very well known city. In fact, the competition among Italian cities is too strong (smile). So, Ancona ends up probably outside of the top 100 in most of the “wish lists”. Nevertheless, it became one of my favourite Italian cities ever. I think about it right now, when I miss Italy so much and I can’t go there although I live nearby, just on the other side of the Adriatic Sea.
Heritage and Innovation in Ancona
As many of my readers know, I am a strong advocate for slow and sustainable travel. That being said, I try to encourage others to travel without pressures to go to “must visit” places, and to live in the moment. At the moment when I decided to accept the invitation to that course, I had very little ideas about Ancona and Marche region. It turned out to be one of the finest moments of slow traveling.
I lived in a studio apartment with two roommates, in the historical centre of the city. Every morning we would go together to that school, where we explored the possibilities of business planning for artists.
It is quite a puzzling process. No degree in formal education teaches you that. Not even experience from a job at a company or institution gives you these insights. It is a matter of individual effort to find some specific experiences like this one. If you are reading this and you are curious to know more about this program, feel free to contact me. For now, I will focus on the main topic: the Museo Omero Museum.
The Museo Omero provides an experience of specific diversity
From now on, we are shutting down the pictures until the end of this article.
Surprised with the move? You don’t need to be. It is because of the very nature of this museum. This museum is tactile. As a result, it is accessible to blind / non-sighted visitors. It is also the place for anyone to experience the realities of people with this kind of disability. Meanwhile, you will explore the replicas of greatest works of classical sculpture, moquettes of famous buildings, and also some contemporary sculptures.
In the times when accessibility is becoming the key topic in meaningful conversations about culture, this museum provides some valuable ideas. The museum’s founders are Aldo Grassini and his wife Daniela Bottegoni, the non-sighted art enthusiasts and travellers. The project started small through the late 80s and early 90s. Nowadays, the museum has the status of a national museum in Italy for its incredible importance in terms of accessibility and inclusion.
Finally, we can say that so much more can be done in the field of museums and art in the service of inclusion. This museum is a small example of a potentially big world.
Walking around the space without looking
For me, it was not the first time I had a non-visual museum experience. Some years before, I visited an exhibition at the Museum of Arts and Crafts in Zagreb, where visitors were challenged to recognise the objects from their shape and smell, in the full darkness.
This is a different story, though. In fact, the rooms of the Museo Omero in Ancona are full of light. However, visitors will often use the blindfold and go through these rooms without looking, usually accompanied by a family member or friend. Then they will switch the roles. That is how we did. I was the one who wore the blindfold through the first part of the visit, as I entered the exhibition area with that on my head. Initially, my idea about the exhibition area was quite vague. I went from the artwork to the artwork, and my goal was to recognise them. As an art historian, I recognised many of the works, but some didn’t feel exactly like I would expect.
After that, it was interesting to guide through a museum someone who is not from the fields of art or anything related. To make it fun, I recalled some of my museum guidance skills, and he eventually recognised some buildings and some characteristics of statues (even if artists’ names were unfamiliar to him).
Art is more immersive than we think
As a founder of this site, I am committed to talk about museums and arts as something accessible in general. To clarify, I will admit that I am tired of claims that museums are “for someone else”. Further, I can’t stand hearing that art is for “elites”. There are many types of museums, and not all of them are art museums. Nevertheless, all the museum relate to some kind of art, one way or another. Even some sport skills can be described as art. After all, so many things around us are a kind of art.
Museo Omero in Ancona brings up a lovely concept of appreciating art. It even shows how the definition of museum can be broad. First, it doesn’t have a collection of specific historic artefacts – the items are only secondary to purpose. It consists of replicas and a collection of contemporary sculptures. Still, it is not a museum of contemporary art.
Second, it is a museum that specialises in a cause and learning goals. Their education is not about any information or knowledge. Instead, it focuses solely on visitor’s experience.
Back in 2012 when I was working on my masters thesis I would say this is a conceptual museum, but now I just say – it is a museum. It is the place for curiosity and joyful learning.
For further curiosity about the Museo Omero in Ancona:
The Interview with the Founder (In Italian) – here he says what I often say, “culture is everything, and everything is culture”.