Written by  Andrea Buzzoni
A positive result for ten passionate years of exhibition activity in Ferrara.
Ten years ago marked a turning point for exhibition activities in Ferrara with the coming to fruition of the belief that such a cultural resource had a part to play in the development of the city's tourist industry.

This feeling was spurred on further by the opportunity presented by an exchange of exhibitions between the Galleria d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea in Ferrara and the Musée Marmottan Monet in Paris. The Ferrarese gallery organised a monographic exhibition on Giovanni Boldini in Paris; the Marmottan put on a show with a selection of works by Claude Monet and friends at the Palazzo dei Diamanti.

Right from the beginning of the collaboration with the French gallery it was clear that to make the exchange a success Ferrara would need a management structure which spoke the same organisational language as foreign museums. And so Ferrara Arte, a limited company, was set up by the municipality and the Provincial Administration. Between 25 February and 15 May 1992, Claude Monet e i suoi amici was visited by two hundred and thirty two thousand people. For nearly three months thousands of people crowded the exhibition rooms of the Palazzo dei Diamanti before spilling into the town: into the streets and squares, the churches and museums, the hotels, restaurants and bars.
The character of the city might have been changed by this influx, but it didn't happen. Ferrara kept the upper hand, succeeding in making its visitors behave in a respectful fashion and attracting tourists in search of a restrained beauty, to be discovered quietly and without spoiling it. And this has not changed in the ten years which have passed since then. That this event marked a change was immediately obvious, as was the fact that the city needed to identify strategies, improve its organisation and generally control a phenomenon that could not be left to improvisation.

The roles of the Galleria d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea and Ferrara Arte needed to be defined. The first concentrated on exhibitions of nineteenth century Italian art, which were less expensive and less organisationally complex. The second tackled more demanding exhibitions, ranging from ancient to modern art, both Italian and foreign, without overlooking themes and figures from Ferrara's own art history.

A well-defined identity was needed, and for this reason exhibitions of a historical nature were chosen, both for cultural reasons and so as to stand out from other Italian galleries.
It was decided to plan and organise several exhibitions in collaboration with Italian and foreign museums and scholars of international repute. After opening in Ferrara several of these shows then transferred to prestigious galleries abroad. It was decided not to pay for the loan of works, an undesirable practice which is unfortunately becoming widespread.

We have tried to mount exhibitions of a high standard which are also able to attract a wide public, but with the accent on quality rather than popularity.
To spread out the influx of tourists around the city, two Ferrara Arte exhibitions are shown at the Palazzo dei Diamanti, one in spring and a second in autumn. The summer season belongs to the Galleria d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea.

Because of the scarcity of funds, we have tried to make all exhibitions, whether those mounted by Ferrara Arte or at the Galleria d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, self-financing as far as possible. There has also been a significant contribution from the municipal authorities, who have also given their whole-hearted backing at every stage. But the most important factor has been the involvement of the entire city.