Therapeutic properties of art is a well-known concept today. And for sure many of us have seen photos of a person being brought by medical staff into a museum as if to grant one last wish: seeing beauty again.
But in Rome, where beauty is certainly not something we miss, since 2012 there was already a Civil Service project of the Capitoline Superintendence of Cultural Heritage which is called “Degenza e Conoscenza: la storia di Roma entra negli Ospedali” (Hospitalisation and knowledge: the history of Rome enters the Hospitals), a project of social inclusion because beauty belongs to all those who are able to see it, even if they are hospitalized.
The idea is to reknit to the city, through the threads of Rome’s archaeology and art history, hospitalized people, in order to keep them connected to the city with the goal of letting them escape into a different dimension from the one in which the disease forces them. Even if just for a few hours.
When we become ill, as “it happens to everything which is alive” according to an expression I heard in a small village on the slopes of Etna in Sicily, our world shrinks and our disease dominates. When it happened to me, the greatest commitment was to stay connected to the things I loved: the books, the emotion of beauty so as not to restrict my world to the number of a bed and a room. ‘Cause the world must remain big and full of beautiful things.
Just like the ancient statues that come down to us without arms or nose but no less beautiful, the disease ruptures our life and reminds us that we are imperfect. Think for example to the so-called “Belvedere Torso” of the Vatican Museums that inspired Michelangelo’s art! Allegedly Pope Julius II ordered the great artist to add the head and the limbs and Michelangelo refused as he was convinced the statue was beautiful even that way.
And besides, being perfect would be a big problem since the word “perfect” comes from Latin and is the past participle of the verb “perficere” which means “completed”, “finished” and therefore dead. Have you ever thought about that?
The Capitoline Superintendence supported another similar initiative over the years: “Art in the Lane” (Arte in Corsia) which is held on February 11 on the occasion of the International Day of the Sick. That’s why, when I heard about these projects, I really looked forward to tell you about it! I’d like to introduce you to the “behind the scenes” of the city you’ll visit, let you know the way our Cultural Heritage is managed and that even Romans are eternal tourists in their city and tour just like you do.
Indeed, both “Art in the Lane” and “Hospitalization and Knowledge” Projects organize special in situ visits (from Latin = on site) together with doctors, Civil Service volunteers and the Capitoline Superintendence for patients who can leave temporarily the Hospital and for their families. They also operate in the pediatric wards, in order to teach the history of Rome through play-didactic workshops designed ad hoc (latin = for this purpose!). In this case, the fixed appointment is in the morning of December 31 to celebrate the New Year together with hospitalized patients.
The Covid emergency has temporarily stopped these beautiful projects, but the new program for September is already on desks in the offices of Capitoline Superintendence. Like every activity here, even the story telling of Rome in the hospitals, can’t wait to start over.
Here the link: http://www.sovraintendenzaroma.it/content/servizio-civile