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Accessibility to state cultural heritage

The overcoming of architectural barriers in recent years has been one of the best operations carried out by the Ministry of cultural heritage and activities, also via the institution of a Ministerial Committee, which published “Guidelines to overcoming architectural barriers in places of cultural interest” in 2008 (Linee guida per il superamento delle barriere architettoniche nei luoghi di interesse culturale).

The Directorate-General of Museums pursues its commitment to assign importance to projects and operations related to the accessibility of state cultural places launched and sustained in recent years by the former Directorate-General of Valorization of Cultural Heritage.

Physical, sensorial and cultural access are important requisites to make cultural sites fully available for use by a growing public target.

The projects coordinated by the chief officer of the Directorate-General, Gabriella Cetorelli, are listed below.

A.D. Arte: An informative system for the quality of use of cultural heritage by people with specific needs

Created to provide certain, verified information on the real conditions of access to Italian state cultural heritage sites, the project involved the conception, creation and informative dissemination of a system for detecting and analysing the access of Italian state cultural sites.

The project was supported by a team of Italian experts and a permanent technical panel set up at the Ministry, and was also able to rely on assistance from the main associations representing the disabled and from various European organisations.

The access details of the first 100 cultural places considered are available in Italian and English at

A lift for Michelangelo

Curated by the Superintendence for Architectural, Landscape, Historical, Artistic and Ethno-anthropological Heritage for the Provinces of Florence, Pistoia and Prato, the project looked at the subject of overcoming architectural barriers in the monumental complex of the Medici Chapels in Florence, by monitoring the structures.

A lift connecting the entrance level of the crypt to the first floor, which houses the Chapel of Princes and the New Sacristy, was installed.

A platform making it possible to overcome steps in the original structure, which could not be eliminated, was also built.

Extended access in the archaeological area of Tarquinia

Led by the Superintendence for the Archaeological Heritage of Southern Etruria, the project, triggered by a detailed feasibility study, is currently underway and will allow all visitors to visit the famous “Pulcella’s Grave”, a masterpiece dating back to the 5th century BC, with its valuable frescoes. This is one of the most important “dromos” graves in the necropolis of Tarquinia, which is a UNESCO world heritage site.

Extended access in the archaeological area of the Roman Forum and Palatine

Curated by the Special Superintendence for the Archaeological Heritage of Rome, the project allowed the construction of a gently sloping ramp to the archaeological area of the Palatine, making it possible to easily overcome a steep climb featuring high steps.

Hendrick Andersen and Olivia Cushing Project. Between utopia and reality

Curated by the Superintendence to the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, the project intends to promote the life and works of the sculptor, painter and American urbanist of Norwegian origin, Hendrik Christian Andersen. The project envisages the presentation of about three thousand digitalised versions of pictures from the first half of the 20th century, sourced during meticulous archive searches. A virtual audio book has also been created, looking at the highlights of the famous artist’s busy life, along with a virtual tour of the museum-house, to discover his most important works, and of the beautiful building that houses it. A version in Italian Sign Language (LIS) is also available.

The memory of beauty

The project accomplished by the Directorate-General in partnership with the Superintendence of the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, dedicated to people with Alzheimer’s Disease, consists in a series of guided tours created especially for patients and their caregivers. Studies on the subject have highlighted how art and creative occupations can accompany the therapies available for these patients, as they work on the emotional circuits, which are preserved for longer than their cognitive counterparts as the disease progresses, improving the moods and self-esteem of those affected by Alzheimer’s.

Ostia Antica – timeless city. Eco-tour of the painted domus

In the archaeological area of Ostia Antica, with the project “Ostia Antica – timeless city – Eco-tour of the painted domus” a tour itinerary capable of guaranteeing equal enjoyment and use of the area by all visitors has been financed.

The idea was to offer improved access to the western outskirts of the archaeological complex, where there are numerous domus decorated with refined wall paintings and mosaics, thanks to careful planning, curated by the Special Superintendence for the Archaeological Heritage of Rome.

The itinerary, much of which is travelled by golf-car, now allows visitors who have difficulty walking, access to the whole area of the Garden Houses and the adjacent insulae (insula delle Muse, insula delle Pareti Gialle, insula delle Ierodule).

During the tour, visitors can rest on ergonomic seats made with ecological materials, to allow full enjoyment of the venue.

Easy to understand communication tools are available along the whole tour itinerary.

There is also the App, “Ostia Antica – timeless city”, which offers access to a multimedia itinerary to accompany visitors on a virtual tour to discover an entire residential quarter of the ancient Roman town.

Culture without barriers

The online public consultation “Culture without barriers”, aimed at users of heritage, intends to finance a state cultural site selected from Italy’s places of excellence, for the creation of a physical and/or sensorial access itinerary, in order to allow complete use by all visitors.

The consultation was won by the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Cagliari, which presented the project “A liquid Museum”, aimed at carrying out structural adaptations on the basis of the principles of design for all, extended to multimedia itineraries.

Within the scope of the same project the second and third-ranking cultural places were also financed: Galleria Nazionale delle Marche in Urbino, and Museo storico e Parco del Castello di Miramare in Trieste.

At the Galleria Nazionale delle Marche, various traditional and technological aids have been installed, with the aim of favouring visits by people with specific needs. An itinerary has been designed to offer an overview of the building and the works on display in the gallery, proposing tactile sensorial experiences together with multimedia technologies. An audio-video guide has also been created, in the form of an e-book, with translation into Italian Sign Language (L.I.S.) of the works, accompanied by subtitles in Italian or in English for foreign visitors.

Museo storico e Parco del Castello di Miramare in Trieste have created a guide to the park in braille, and a smart guide with a specific graphic interface for the blind, sight-impaired, hearing-impaired and physically disabled, to allow everyone to interact effectively with the museum and the surrounding environment, independently and in accessible spaces.

Financing by the Directorate-General is also being used to install a lift inside the Castle, to make all floors of the monument accessible to visitors.

See also

  • News

    Conference "Cultural heritage".

    On the 7th of December, the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Tourism presents projects for accessibility to cultural sites and tourist facilities.

    Learn more »
  • News

    Liquid Museum.

    The first outcome for the accessibility project of Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Cagliari, Sardinia.

    Learn more »