The new director of the Museum for Contemporary Art of Rivoli has a plan: to make the Castle a space open to an increasingly heterogeneous public. The secret? Multiplicity of languages

Observing Rivoli on a rigid and clear morning at the end of winter - on the occasion of the inauguration of the new director Francesco Manacorda - one wonders how he could, back in the 1980s, run for office as the first authoritative Italian museum for contemporary art. A castle, a former fortress, which has since housed the most important collection of contemporary Italian art.

What was its location? Far enough from the city of Turin, positioned on top of a hill, in a rather isolated place, it certainly cannot be reached very easily, which may also have been its strength.

Or maybe the reason lies in its severe beauty? The castle was commissioned (among many) by the Savoys, the noble military house originally from the South of France, who in 1734 entrusted the project to Filippo Juvarra: but the work was interrupted at the end of the 18th century and the Castle remained an unfinished building for a long time.

Live or die? The choice was to have it reborn, so much so that in the second half of the 20th century the Piedmont region decided to renovate Rivoli, entrusting the project to the architect Andrea Bruno, a master in keeping the identity of historic buildings intact while giving his works a contemporary character. And so, in 1984, exactly forty years ago, the Castle became what it still is today: a place with a double soul, contemporary and baroque.

Let's remember that in those years the country was rather lacking in contemporary art, apart from the Venice Biennials and a series of pioneering galleries active since the 1970s, there was very little.

The Piedmont Region, well advised, therefore made a courageous choice which bore fruit: Rivoli gave the 'there' to the contemporary in the Bel Paese, positioning itself as a point of reference for Italian and international artists and curators who, especially in the early years, loved reach the Castle to carry out Site Specific works.

On January 1st, forty years after its inauguration, the new director of the museum Francesco Manacorda, a true Turin native and former director of the V.A.C., took office. of Moscow (2017-2022), from which he resigned a few days after the outbreak of the conflict with Ukraine, of the Tate of Liverpool (2012-2017), of Artissima (2010-2012), of theBarbican Art Gallery (2007-2009). He succeedsCarolyn Christov-Bakargievdirector since 2016.

What will Manacorda's contribution be? "Certainly", he said at the presentation press conference, "there is a desire to restart the museum in a direction of greater openness > to those who we can define as 'the new users of art': Rivoli is appreciated and known internationally, but perhaps still too closed in its being a space intended for the Turin and Piedmontese public".

An 'inaccessibility' (more conceptual than physical) which was highly appreciated by artists such as Beuys and Kounellis, just to mention two great names, but which is not very welcome to a non-expert audience?

Francesco Manacorda: “Rivoli certainly has an access problem: it is 30 minutes from Turin, so even those who come to the city to visit it often do not include it in their tour programme: but we are working towards greater usability of the Castle, reviewing timetables and creating easier public connections."

Is a museum a place where you go to visit exhibitions or the permanent collection or can it become something different?

Francesco Manacorda: "The intention is to make Rivoli a space to be used across the board: thematic exhibitions on contemporary art, retrospectives, in-depth studies, debates, but also openness to new languages, sustainability in pool position, and collateral activities".

It should not be forgotten that over the years the Castle has equipped itself with an archive, a 1000 square meter library, the CRRI (Castello di Rivoli Research Centre) was created, and even extraneous operations have been carried out to the contemporary, such as the acquisition of the Cerruti Collection (bequest of Francesco Federico Cerruti, collector of 20th century arted), a residence just a few minutes walk from the museum, which it houses a rich collection of almost three hundred sculptural and pictorial works from the Middle Ages to the contemporary, ancient books with fine bindings and over three hundred pieces of furniture and furnishings with carpets and desks by famous cabinetmakers.

Then there is the problem of leisure and hospitality: before the pandemic in Rivoli there was a starred restaurant and a fully equipped café.

“Rivoli is fortunate to have important spaces, and to be placed in a beautiful context: this must also be exploited by restoring or creating new areas intended for dining and relaxation: you will be able to come to the museum for the collections and exhibitions, but also to feel good in a beautiful place, to have meetings, drink a coffee, enjoy the view".

I remember the first years of the museum's opening, those 1980s whose director was Rudy Fuchs: the destination was the Castle and Turin certainly wasn't so rich and proactive as much as it is today.

You climbed the stairs with the certainty that you were going to see something unique and wonderful. And in part it was exactly like that.

But today this idea of an elitist place has fortunately been subverted: not elitist, not mass. Rivoli is a space in itself: a one-of-a-kind destination to be savored with due slowness.