Digitization vs COVID-19 in Italy – ArtCentrica

The Decree of the Prime Minister dated 9th March 2020 identified the entire Italian territory as quarantined “red” zone. One of Europe’s worst-hit countries by COVID-19, since then, Italy has been put on a nationwide lockdown, with all companies being ordered to close down, apart from those carrying out “essential services”. In order to hinder and limit the possible spread, besides the “Let’s all stay home” executive order, the Italian Government has implemented a number of emergency measures applied to the whole country, including the closure of schools, universities, gyms, museums, clubs and more severe restrictions to business, commercial and leisure activities.

In spite of the eeriness of the situation and the sense of anxiety running in the air, Italy still functions.

Since the outbreak of the virus and its tremendous impact on the life of citizens, Italy’s Ministry for Technological Innovation & Digitization (MID) and the country’s digital agency (AgID) have decided to focus their joint effort on setting up a Digital Solidarity Site (https://solidarietadigitale.agid.gov.it) collecting all the services available for free to citizens in order to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus emergency: from free subscriptions to magazines to online courses and tutoring support for students, the list is really endless.

Moreover, Italy, the cradle of art and culture, cannot forget that the right to have a cultural life is part of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, because “art makes man” just as much as work does.

And Art and Culture can get into our homes.

Many museums, art galleries and foundations have begun using their social media to promote their collections and the beauty we can experience when visiting them. Answering the call of #iorestoacasa, #museichiusimuseiaperti and #laculturanonsiferma, they have joined the social campaigns by promoting virtual initiatives with the aim of establishing a stronger dialogue with the public and jointly fighting the spread of COVID-19. Their new digital programs range in topic and approach: from deep dives into the archives to daily art lessons for kids, from artists’ responses to the crisis to new ways to find community through art, these organizations have re-purposed their websites and social media channels to ensure that art remains a positive force during these challenging times.

Coronavirus is causing us to re-evaluate what truly matters. More than ever, travel restrictions, the cancellation of real-world events and lockdown are pushing companies to explore new ways of using technology to connect with people.

This is the case of one of our stakeholders involved in CD ETA project: Centrica (https://www.centrica.it/en/), a flagship pioneering company, a referral point for museums, public and private cultural organizations, municipalities and institutions.

Thanks to its good practices “Renaissance Experience: Florence and Uffizi” (https://vimeo.com/257208503) and “Uffizi Touch Cloud” (https://vimeo.com/188054233), the company has provided a real added value to our European  project.

Centrica is specialized in the design, development and marketing of ad hoc digital solutions which support a perfect combination of content and emotional involvement and make the user the main character of an experience where knowledge, detail and entertainment are bind together.

During the “Second Thematic Seminar”, which took place in Florence, on May 2017, Centrica was among the main protagonists in the session “Presentation of European Best Practices about Digitization of Museums and Galleries” with “Uffizi Virtual Experience” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pG4FLIEFBc ), the first immersive, interactive digital exhibition dedicated to the art collection of the Uffizi Gallery. That is more than eleven hundred works of art digitized in very high resolution, with advanced technologies and interactive systems for a learning and entertaining experience.

Centrica never stops amazing us: let’s have a look at ArtCentrica!

(http://www.artcentrica.com/en/) ArtCentrica is the world’s first product to hold inside a digital interactive “painting” the entire heritage preserved in the Uffizi Gallery and in the Brera‘s Picture Gallery, captured in extremely high resolution images. It is a cloud application suitable for any interactive whiteboard and it can bring benefits to everyone’s life in these complicated days, since the company has decided to make the application downloadable for free, available for Windows and Mac OS computers, with the possibility to use it until May 10th 2020.

This is just one of the many responses to the immediate challenges presented by COVID-19 which demonstrates the vital importance of digital culture in the midst of this crisis.

In this scenario it is even more important than ever to spread the value of culture; it is commendable that companies and memory institutions have exhibited tremendous resilience by continuing, amidst this global health crisis, to serve the public through free online exhibitions, making available digitized copies of ancient manuscripts and effectively engaging with citizens on social media.

In the light of the rapidly escalating COVID-19 outbreak around the world, though the physical experience remains paramount, digitization will bring to close relationships: through remote access it will be possible to help communities to connect with each other and provide psychosocial help through records of shared cultures, languages and creative expression. Let’s turn the threat of COVID-19 into an opportunity to make creativity and knowledge accessible through digital images, anywhere.

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