That Italy is looking eagerly to the future is perceptible in Milan, and perhaps nowhere more than in initiatives among civil society, which is the true driving force of the decade. Institutions are slow but individuals are astonishingly quick to come together and take action.
Three examples, plus one
1. Immediately after the unspeakable aggression perpetrated by the “black blocks” who set the centre of Milan ablaze, the city’s residents turned out to clean the streets. With help from the Comune, granted, they wielded cloths, brooms and detergents to restore the city’s dignity and quiet beauty. They didn’t sit around waiting for lumbersome procedures. They rolled up their sleeves and got down to work, showing their respect for public property.
2. On April 30th, Giorgio Armani, the grand master of Italian couture, celebrated 40 years of his brand with the opening of a museum and documentary centre which traces his career, collections and creativity. Investing tens of millions of euros, “King Giorgio” has transformed a former Nestlé warehouse into a venue which, of course, celebrates his genius but also shows how creativity and dedication can generate an achievement that history will remember.
3. On May 2nd, the Prada Foundation presented its new headquarters at a press conference. On the site of a 1910 distillery, Rem Koolhaas has opened up wonderful spaces which can host up to ten exhibitions at a time. A cinema, bar, children’s centre and library complete this complex. The Prada Foundation, with its twenty years of activity, has sought out a new location where debate is always welcome. Not some impenetrable seat of power turned in on itself but a forum for art and culture.
The power of culture has always been present at the very heart of Milan at the Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana, established in the seventeenth century by Cardinal Federigo Borromeo. One of the most prestigious museums in the world, home of the Codex Atlanticus and other priceless writings by Leonardo da Vinci, for two months it is hosting La Conquista del Tempo (The Mastery of Time). This exhibition, curated by the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie in the context of Expo 2015, is a powerful reminder that time is truly the energy that keeps life moving forward, and how civilisations have achieved new conquests thanks to their “mastery” of time. A message thousands of visitors will share each week.
All this is taking place in Milan. All this is taking place thanks to the courage, vision and pride of citizens, be they ordinary or out-of-the-ordinary, who know that beauty only comes about when we push up our sleeves and get down to business, without waiting for anyone’s help, without blaming anyone else. A spirit which, we hope, will continue beyond the six months of Expo 2015.