This is a bit of a ranty post, so bear with me.
OK, I have often written about the Turin Egyptian Museum, the second largest collection of Egyptian antiques in the world, the place where I used to hang out with my friend back when I was in school.
Today, the news that the Museum hosted a night of Zumba fitness dance hit me like a ton of bricks.
OK, I thought, the guys are kidding.
No, they were not.
To “bring some life to the museum” and to promote sports, a bunch of guys in sweatpants and tees danced their blues away to the rhythm of the soundtrack to The Mummy (the Tom Cruise version), and to the Bangle’s Walk like an Egyptian.
This is so mindbogglingly humiliating that I have no words.
And I say humiliating because not only the event, but the way in which it was presented was offensive, and hostile to the idea of the museum as a place of learning.
Mind you, the direction of the museum does not need to attract more visitors using such gimmicks – the Egyptian Museum in Turin is the most visited venue in town, and one of the most visited museums in Italy. They only wanted to make the headlines, and show that museums are not boring places – what the heck, you can do fitness classes in there!
Which is an utter failure.
And the enthusiastic tones the city press used to describe this grotesque event are possibly even more offensive and disheartening.
Museums are places of learning.
And learning can be fun and is not boring at all.
And if you have to use stupid gimmicks to get this message through, you are not managing your museum the right way.
There is a plethora of initiatives and events that can give a less stuffy and dead impression of a modern museum. Lectures, courses, events, parties, masked balls, themed dinners… you could even arrange the presentation of movies or video games there.
There are good ideas everywhere.
Having people dance in the midst of statues and ancient relics is not one of these.
According to the press, the intent was “finding places and venues in [Turin] to promote physical activity and the care of the body.”
We used to call those places gyms, but evidently it is no longer so.
What’s up next – a Zumba session in a library, or in a movie theater?
After all it’s a well-known fact that sitting with a good book or a good movie leads to obesity, right?