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All Italian museums could be forced to close — Analysis

As visitor numbers return to pre-pandemic levels, Italian museums may not be able to handle the demand and be forced to shut down, Uffizi Gallery Director Eike Schmidt warned on Thursday in an interview with Italy’s ANSA news agency. 

Schmidt warned that the staffing levels of Italian museums have been in decline. “without a solution we’re all going to close, even the biggest ones.”He held firm that the next government would have to be formed after the September 25 general elections. “address and immediately resolve the staffing problems of museums and other places of culture” in Italy.

The Uffizi Gallery in Florence is under particular pressure, after drawing international attention last month, when Italian eco-activists managed to slip past security guards and glue themselves to Sandro Botticelli’s ‘Primavera’ painting to demand the country abandon fossil fuels.

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A number of industries in the Italian economy are experiencing shortages of staff since the Covid-19 pandemic. This has had a negative impact on tourism as not enough people have signed up to seasonal jobs in order to keep pace with growing demand.

According to Massimo Garavaglia’s estimates, Italy could be without between 70,000 to 350,000 workers during this season.

Garavaglia suggested that the shortage stems from the “citizen’s income” social security scheme introduced by the ruling Five Star Movement in 2019, which makes it more profitable to be unemployed than to engage in insecure, underpaid seasonal work.

Five Star MPs, however, argue that job insecurity is the main problem and not irregular contracts. Additionally, a survey of 1,650 seasonal workers found that “Covid uncertainty” was the main reason people opted out of work in the 2021 season.

In order to counteract staff shortages in the tourism industry, Garavaglia has suggested increasing the number of visas available for seasonal workers traveling from abroad, and allowing people to retain 50% of their citizen’s income while working summer jobs.

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