Italian art exhibition may find home in Miami
By Risa Polansky
Adding to Miami's growing reputation as an arts destination, an exhibition of Italian works could soon find a home here.
Giorgio Ricchebuono, chairman of the Biblioteca Ambrosiana Foundation in Milan, visited Miami last month to explore the possibility of bringing some of the world-famous Italian collection's pieces here, including some never shown in the US.
Founded 400 years ago in Milan, Ambrosiana boasts one of the largest art collections in the world.
"It is one of the most important museums worldwide," Mr. Ricchebuono said, and is home to more than 1,500 paintings and a million-plus books.
The idea is to bring to the US exhibitions of works from the vast collection — which includes pieces by Leonardo da Vinci, Sandro Botticelli, Caravaggio and others — with the two-fold goal of fundraising for the institution and spreading culture.
"What we would like to do is to make this long-term agreement with a museum or a university or a high school" to raise money to restore some of the collection's ancient paintings and books, Mr. Ricchebuono said.
The other aim: "to open the cultural sentiment we have and to support us for the next generation. This is what we would like to find here in Miami."
The first stop could be downtown's Freedom Tower, potentially as early as December, he said.
Miami-based Italian Consul General Marco Rocca said he expects that if the "semi-permanent" exhibition comes to fruition, it could be a big draw for culture buffs from in and outside Miami.
"If we succeed in realizing this project, probably it would be a major cultural event for Miami," he said. "It would be natural that tourists are attracted by such an exhibition. These are not pieces that are found anywhere. Probably it would be a major attraction for cultural tourists."
Mr. Rocca said he expects Ambrosiana could send about 100 works at a time for 18-month periods.
"The supply that Ambrosiana can provide is almost unlimited," he said. "This could last for years."
Mr. Ricchebuono agreed that having the prestigious works here could boost the area's cultural reputation and lure tourists.
The museum is considering also bringing exhibitions to cities such as New York and Washington, DC.
"We thought maybe we can do some, not too many, cities," he said. "We have to choose the best because we don't want to overlap this offer."
Miami's cultural diversity and developing identity make it a prime contender, Mr. Ricchebuono said.
He connected with local officials this spring when the Beacon Council, Miami-Dade's economic development arm, traveled to Italy to kick off a fashion and lifestyle initiative.
"Miami is a wonderful opportunity because a lot of people are here," Mr. Ricchebuono said. "The culture is starting now."