In Response to Climate Protests, Italian Museums May Raise Ticket Prices

As more activists target famous artworks, museums tighten security

Action Group Ultima Generazione Protest Ecoclimate Collapse At The Uffizi Gallery
In July, protesters from Ultima Generazione glue their hands to the glass covering of Sandro Botticelli's Primavera. Laura Lezza / Getty Images

In Italy’s museums, art enthusiasts can view iconic works like Sandro Botticelli’s The Birth of VenusMichelangelo’s David and Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper. Soon, that could become a little more expensive.

Italy’s Ministry of Culture is considering increasing the cost of admission to its museums, according to a statement from Minister of Culture Gennaro Sangiuliano. The consideration is a response to climate protests that target fine art.

“The continuous attacks and offenses that are increasingly occurring and damaging our artistic and cultural heritage require us to rethink and reinforce their level of protection,” Sangiuliano says, per Forbes’ Rebecca Ann Hughes. “[These attacks] lead us to take immediate measures, starting with covering all the paintings with glass.”

Sangiuliano’s announcement arrives on the heels of climate protesters dumping flour on a car painted by Andy Warhol in Milan’s cultural center Fabbrica del Vapore. The activists, who are members of Ultima Generazione (which means “last generation”), staged their protest on November 18.

“Considering the enormous heritage to be protected, the intervention will represent a considerable cost for the ministry and of the entire nation,” Sangiuliano says, per Forbes. “Unfortunately, I can only foresee an increase in the cost of the entrance ticket.”

The minister of culture did not specify which museums would increase ticket prices or when any changes would happen.

Ultima Generazione’s flour stunt is the latest in an international movement that has shaken up the art world this year. Over the last six months or so, activists in Australia, Canada, England, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain have glued themselves to paintings and covered famous works of art in mashed potatoes, soup and slimy liquids. None of the artworks, often behind protective glass, sustained significant damage. 

In one of the movement’s highest profile cases, two activists with Just Stop Oil threw canned tomato soup onto Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers at London’s National Gallery. In Italy, Ultima Generazione protesters have thrown pea soup on van Gogh’s The Sower in Rome; they have glued themselves to Laocoön and His Sons at the Vatican Museum, Unique Forms of Continuity in Space in Milan, and Botticelli’s Primavera in Florence.

The Italian environmental group’s demands echo the demands of Just Stop Oil and other organizations around the world: They want Italy to discontinue all fossil fuel ventures and increase the production of renewable energy.

“Italy is being destroyed by the climate and ecological crisis,” Ultima Generazione says on its website. “We are among the most affected countries in Europe and the next few years will be worse and worse. If we do not change course immediately, soon there will be no more food or work, we will risk losing our homes and ordinary people will pay the consequences of an unprecedented disaster.” 

Looking to the future, the group writes: “We have decided not to give up to this fate and to take nonviolent civil disobedience actions.”

The climate protests have not been without consequences. For example, in the Netherlands, two demonstrators with Just Stop Oil Belgium were sentenced to two months in prison after they glued themselves to Johannes Vermeer’s Girl With a Pearl Earring.

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