The state-run museums in Italy have registered more visitors in 2015 than ever before. In the first 11 months of this year, the visitor numbers have exceeded the former record of 40 million set in 2014.
"There is a marked positive trend in visitor numbers," says Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini. It appears that many make use of the offer of free museum access on Sundays. But more importantly, the number of paying visitors and subsequently the income of the museums has increased.
The surge in visitor numbers was preceded by a reform of the museum system which included extended opening hours. After years of austerity, the Italian government is investing in culture again.
For instance, they are now working on boosting personnel in cultural institutions: Openings for 500 new positions for archeologists and librarians are advertized for 2016. Back in August, Italy's culture ministry had already appointed 20 directors for leading museums.
Increasing the culture budget is really paying off, says Franceschini. Now it is a question of building on these good results, not letting them slip away by continuing to work on preserving the historical, cultural and archeological heritage.
In Italy, there are some 400 state-run museums and ancient sites, including the Uffizi galleries in Florence, the Coliseum in Rome and the excavations in Pompeii.
ey/sc (dpa, beniculturali.it)