When some Italian friends get to know that I've got a MA in museum studies, they always like to mention some famous museums in Italy. The Museo Egizio is very often mentioned.
Michele is the first one to let me know the existence of this museum. It has been well-known since the 17th century, when activities of archaeological excavation were poular. So it doesn't surprise me that Italians are quite proud of it. For its fame and my own interests in Egytian culture, I made it a must-go when I visited Turin for the first time in 2003.
When I entered the museum, I was surprised by its out-dated and fusty atmosphere. Probably due to my stereotypic idea, I always put an equal sign on fame and operational expense. Also, I was probably too used to the scale of several national museums in UK. Therefore, when I stepped into the museum, there's a big question mark in my mind.
進入第一個展區，最先穿過的是一個由兩個弧形玻璃櫥窗圍成的區域，中央擺著整個展區的焦點展示 – 木乃伊。還記得小時後第一次到大英博物館的時候，應是擠進人潮之中，就是想要一賭木乃伊的‘丰采’；長大以後，幾經思考所謂生與死的議題，加上在博物館界對於展示人體的爭論不斷，我的態度也逐漸向反對一方移動；該日在博物館內再次看到木乃伊，實際上是一種震驚的感覺…人體被物化，毫無尊嚴可言地被展示在博物館中，頓時間一陣窒息感湧上心頭，讓我只能快速穿過，往同展區的其他部分走去，希望能藉此轉移注意力。概念上而言，這個展區的設計手法可以是整個博物館的引介，而館方也確實做到了這一點，以編年史的方式配合文物，讓參觀者能夠對博物館內涵括的年代有點概念，然而，展示的老舊卻顯露在零散的解說牌上，紙張因為維護不佳或年代久遠而起了皺折，或者整個解說版根本就掉到展示櫃下方，加上肉眼清晰可見的灰塵，只能說，也許館方真是人力不足，連基本的清潔維護都做不到。
Entering the first exhibition area, I immediately passed through an area surrounded by two semicircular exhibition cases. At the center of the area lies the focus of the whole exhibition area - a mummy. I still remember when I went to the British Museum for the first time, I tried so hard to get into the crowd, just to see the mummy that has been keeping me curious for very long time. Years passed by. When I got older, I started to think about issues related to life and death. Getting to know the dispute of exhibiting human remains in the museum context, my attitude changed from positive to negative, for respect of individual life. The visit to the Museo Egizio was the second time to see a mummy exhibited in the museum. My feeling? Well, honestly, it's quite a shocking feeling. Human body is materialized and exhibited in a museum without respect. I felt suffocated. I walked through with a fast pace, hoping to turn my attention to other exhibits in the same room. Concept wise, the first area acts as an introduction to the whole museum, and the exhibition actually achieves its purpose. The exhibition continues with a chronological order and gives visitors some idea about the time span that will be covered. However, the exhibtion is ill-maintained. Some exhibition panels scattered or fallen. Uneven paper due to humidity with faded color. Dust all around. It seems that they don't have enough staff and can not even keep the basic maintenance.
The following visit was like a disaster. The orientation inside the museum is pretty terrible, no place to sit down and take a rest, and no maintenance of illumination facility. There's one time that we arrived an area that looked like emergency exit and did not know how to continue our visit. All these things kept lowering my mood and impression. The thing that impressed me the most should be the exhibition hall dedicated to marble statues. I bought a museum guide when I entered. There're some basic and historical information about the museum, with a sketch of the exhibition hall in the 19th century. I took it for comparison... it's basically identical!! There're new exhibitions standing along side with old ones, though I don't think that the new ones were done with a basic standard. I couldn't really stand the atmosphere and I just wanted to leave.
With the condition of the museum, a simple audioguide can largely improve the quality of the visitor experience. After I inquired the staff, I was told that there wasn't such plan in the near future, and she even recommended me to buy the catalogue of the museum, thinking that I'd be able to get the information I need inside the 8cm thick book. Is museum exhibition equal to textbook? It's not the first time that I had to face such situation. I admitted that I didn't do my "homework" before I went for the visit. But it's because all my visit experiences told me that I could alwats find a thread to enjoy my visit. However, I was totally wrong this time.
There're many museums in Italy that Italian are proud of. In many cases, it's due to the quality of the collection, but not the outstanding exhibition. However, no matter how high the quality of the collection is, how prescious the artefacrs are, if visitors can not feel and experience the beauty and essence within, or don't even leave any impression after the visit, somehow it still can not justify itself.