This opening excerpt, about the Pigorini Museum (one of the most important ones in Italy for ethnography and prehistory) wrenched my heart:
On some days visitors to the Luigi Pigorini National Museum of Prehistory and Ethnography here may find its director in the front booth handing out entrance tickets. It’s not a meet-and-greet situation: The museum is chronically understaffed.
In recent weeks museumgoers have tended to speed past the glass-encased artifacts from Oceania and Asia or skim Homo’s evolution to sapiens. They can’t afford to tarry. The Pigorini has no money for air-conditioning, and the Roman sun is merciless.
“We barely have enough money to keep the lights on, or pay for a cleaning staff,” said Vito Lattanzi, director of educational services and of the Mediterranean collections at the museum, which is also a research institute. The custodial staff has been pared down to 11 from 30. Ten years ago there were eight to a shift; now there are four, and in most cases two are volunteers.
The article also does a very good job exploring the reasons behind the disinterest in private donation to support much cultural research in the peninsula, and the tensions about the perception of the need for private funding within the cultural world. Definitely worth a thorough read.