ear Readers,[br]
Ceci n’est pas un musée – this is not a museum. While redesigning the museum of Paestum for the revamping and restaging works which are about to start, thanks to prestigious European funds, we were inspired by the famous quote by Magritte, who, under the hyper-realistic drawing of a pipe, wrote indeed Ceci n’est pas une pipe, “this is not a pipe!”, thus reminding us that it is nothing but a piece of paper with color pigments. The pipe is only in the eye of the beholder.[br][br]
Taking the cue from this artistic provocation, we wanted to highlight with a small retouch in the setup, which we are presenting these days, that the museum of Paestum is most of all what its visitors see, what they perceive. Which, potentially, is much more than what is commonly associated with the word “[br][br]
Firstly, it must be clarified that the museum of Paestum, which was founded in 1952, in reality was created around the reconstruction of a scaled down temple, in which metopes (sculpted panels representing Greek Mythology) where found starting from the ‘930s in the shrine of Hera on the river Sele. All the central part of the museum of Paestum represents a temple, complete with colonnade and podium around. You may well notice that the columns surrounding the central museum hall, upon whose walls the original metopes are mounted, take the shape of a covered walkway similar to the temples of Paestum.[br][br]
Let us tell it as it is then: this is not a museum, it is a temple! A museum design conceived back then around an innovative idea: to recreate the original context of the works (it is worth noting here that this recreation is passé by now, but this is another issue). A kind of immersive augmented reality ante litteram, at a time when these concepts were still very new. Our objective is therefore to give new visibility and dignity to this project within the context of the new works, which will not be a full recreation of the museum, but rather a return to its design roots. Revamping the museum means, for us, to revamp the container, too, which is therefore seen as a very meaningful piece of the history of Italian archaeology and museum science of the XX century.[br][br]
Beyond all this, the tagline Ceci n’est pas un musée has a broader meaning: it stands for overcoming mental and conceptual barriers that bind the museum to a certain type of fruition and to a certain image (the famed dust…). Practically, for us this means opening the museum, the storage and the archives in all senses. Transparency and participation of citizens, visitors, associations and universities are key steps towards a museum redefined in an inclusive and accessible way. However, and this is important for us, research as the real heart and engine of each museum remains central. This is indeed the real challenge: to continuously link scientific production of knowledge and data on the past of an exceptional territory such as Paestum, with the audiences of today, who live here or come from far away to visit a unique site for its historical importance and its quaint charm.[br][br]
Director of Paestum Archaeological Park