Just two weeks after his death, helmer Michelangelo Antonioni’s personal archives — comprising several of his short films and thousands of photographs he took on set — are in jeopardy due to plans to shutter the Antonioni museum in his native Ferrara, northern Italy.
The Antonioni museum closed a year ago for refurbishment but will not reopen due to lack of coin, according to a statement from Ferrara’s mayor, Gaetano Sateriale, posted on the city’s website on Monday.
“We can instead consider establishing a film museum in remembrance not just of Antonioni, but of many other directors who chose Ferrara as a movie location,” Sateriale proposed. The surprise announcement. made so soon after Antonioni passed away — on July 31 at age 94 — angered the helmer’s family and fans, as well as the Italian media. “Ferrara ‘evicts’ Antonioni” was the headline in La Repubblica.
The Antonioni archives were donated to the city in 1995, the year the helmer was honored with a lifetime achievement Oscar. The Antonioni museum opened the same year.
“The donation to the city of Ferrara is of great value,” the director’s niece, Elisabetta Antonioni, said on Tuesday, adding that the donation’s terms stated clearly that the material be used for a museum dedicated “exclusively” to her uncle.
The archives, which are in storage, also include Antonioni drawings, his books on film, original posters of his features plus other memorabilia.