The documentary “Hidden Conservation” is a multidisciplinary project produced by students enrolled in different master programmes with backgrounds in media, linguistics, business, architecture, and Italian studies. The team members include: Anisha Patel (India), Yuka Miyoshi (Japan), Leonardo Leckie (England), Laura Fink (Germany), Paola Fontanella (Italy), and Anastasiya Snetkova (Ukraine), bringing together different perspectives and experiences into the production. The project started in April 2016 with lectures on the historical background of Florence and architectural conservation. Filming took place in Florence during the period of 22-27 May 2016 and included an introduction to the management of the World Heritage Site Historic Town Florence at the UNESCO Office of the Municipality of Florence. The project was coordinated by Alexandra Skedzuhn-Safir, art conservator and lecturer with the Chair of Architectural Conservation at the BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg University, with the support of the UNESCO Office of the Municipality of Florence. Technical support and supervision was provided by Ralf Schuster, filmmaker and supervising tutor of the BTU media centre. The documentary was made available to the City of Florence and the UNESCO Office of the Municipality of Florence.
The historic centre of Florence, one of the most important cultural cities of Italy, is visited by millions of people every year. Mass-tourism and overcrowding threatens the very fabric of the city and its many cultural treasures. Produced by six students, this documentary film is an interdisciplinary project that seeks to communicate heritage values by exploring current conservation challenges. It includes interviews with key figures from the Florence municipality and UNESCO with a special focus on the Vasari frescos of Michelozzo’s courtyard in the Palazzo Vecchio.
The high number of tourists that come to visit the historic centre of Florence every year creates an immense pressure on the city. How does the behaviour of tourists affect the built heritage and what impact does this have on the people who live in the city? This project uses film in order to engage people with these issues. It aims to create an appreciation of conservation work and promote a more sustainable view of tourism. The first courtyard in Palazzo Vecchio was designed by Michelozzo and was painted by Girogio Vasari in the 16th century in preparation for the wedding ceremony between Francesco I de’ Medici and Archduchess Johanna of Austria with vistas of various cities from the Habsburg Empire were intended to make the Archduchess feel less homesick when she arrived to her new home. Over the years, changes in climate and tourist pressure have eroded much of the frescoes particularly at the lower level. Visitors are often unaware of the link between deterioration and conservation and it seems there is a need for heritage experts to communicate these issues to raise awareness for the fragility of (architectural) heritage promoting sustainable tourism. Inspired by the UNESCO Office of Florence’s management plan, this documentary strives to solve this challenge by addressing three key areas: getting to “know” the people, understand how to “safeguard” heritage and learn how to “live” together. The aspect of KNOWING concerns built heritage, in this particular instance, the wall paintings of Palazzo Vecchio, the Historic City of Florence and the basic concept of conservation. SAFEGUARDING, on the other hand addresses the methods and instruments of conservation in the Michelozzo courtyard in Palazzo Vecchio, in other words the more technical side of conservation work. The final part LIVING examines how conservation co-exists within the living city of Florence, and in which way tourist behaviour affects the site and what type of difficulties may occur in the future?