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Conservation & Preservation

Japanese barter the restoration of Urbino’s walls in exchange for a Raphael exhibition

Florence's soprintendente has described the proposal as “blackmail”

After the collapse of a section of the sixteenth-century city walls, weakened by water infiltration (see The Art Newspaper No. 20, July-September 1992, p.1), a Japanese consortium have come forward with an offer to supply the large sum needed for repairs. Tatsuro Akanegakubo, head of the Japanese group Italplanning which specialises in architectural restoration and the conservation of works of art, has put together a package of sponsors that includes multinationals, banks, Nippon TV, and the daily newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun. In return for their financial support the Japanese have requested that they should be allowed to organise several exhibitions on Raphael, Urbino’s most famous artist, with loans from the Brera and Uffizi. This is a difficult decision for the Ministero di Beni Culturali in Rome, and its new head Alberto Ronchey, as it is unable to provide all the funds for the extensive restoration work that needs to be done to the city fabric of Urbino to prevent any further deterioration. The soprintendente in Florence, Antonio Paolucci, has declared himself utterly opposed to the Japanese proposal, describing it as “blackmail”.