If cinema is the dream, then the National Museum of Cinema is a web of dreams.
Maria Adriana Prolo, a young Turinese woman, dreamt of building a grandiose museum of cinema in Turin. An enduring dream, one that experienced ups and downs, various difficulties and numerous venues, and which finally came to fruition in 2000 with its inauguration at the Mole Antonelliana; an inauguration which Prolo, who died in 1991, was unable to witness. Not even Alessandro Antonelli, the architect of the Mole, was able to see his dream of constructing the tallest masonry building in Europe come to life; he died in 1888, a year before the building’s inauguration.
The Mole Antonelliana is a bizarre and magnificent building, with an immense central hall that appears to defy the laws of physics. The building’s sense of illusion is the perfect venue for a museum of cinema, a medium created from fantasy and collective illusions. In 2000, the brilliant Swiss/French architect François Confino was selected to design the exhibition space. The result is a surreal museum, with oversized objects, beds to lie on, daring quotations and, at the heart of the museum, the marvellous installation of films projected on the interior of the Dome of the great Temple Hall.
The result is a must-see museum similar to the best films of Tim Burton – in which childhood fantasy and poetry leave the visitor exhilarated and surprised – and at the same time a highly educational museum with a very interesting section dedicated to the archeology of cinema.
The dream, however, must be inclusive. The Museum of Cinema allows visitors to experience a wide range of movie magic and film history through an integrated system, which seems to be paving the way to the idea of a “Smart Museum” – a smart museum connected through the latest in digital technologies. The idea is to close the gap between museum and public by making certain aspects of the museum customisable and interactive (i.e.: didactic panels) and by creating direct participation in the museum’s life through the use of crowdfunding.
The Museum of Cinema, therefore, has become innovative compared to other similar projects because it acts on several levels simultaneously:
1. A series of digital didactic panels on touch screens, which offer the advantage of being updated in real time by the staff (i.e.: in accordance to the arrangement of the exhibit) and offering customisable font size for the user (i.e.: in accordance to the user’s visual needs).
2. The placement of barcodes and QR Tags next to objects. The use of the free application Microsoft TAG that allows users to access trivia and anecdotes of the collections, via their smartphones. The application also accommodates users with disabilities or with special visual requirements.
3. Free Wi-Fi coverage throughout the museum, not an easy feat considering the height of the museum’s construction.
4. The new permanent crowdfunding website, www.makingof.it used to raise funds for projects that could not be achieved without direct contribution from fans and film buffs, which in turns promotes a genuine participation of the public in museum initiatives and activities. The site’s second campaign – to restore the film ‘I Mostri’ by Dino Risi – launched only a few days ago.
The result of all these operations is the development of an integrated system, which evolves, and changes “around” the user and can be easily managed at a centralized level.
It is no coincidence that these global integration features have brought about projects such as Smau and MuseumNext, one of the most important museum conferences active in Europe today.
On April 28, 2015 at Arteq Summit, a conference we will be hosting about museums and the latest technologies, we will analyse the project that is the Museum of Cinema together with Maria Grazia Girotto, who is in charge of the museum, and Stefano Pisu of Torino Wireless, the museum’s technology partner.