Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Meeting Man

One of the more engaging personalities at this year's AAM Annual Meeting is Mario Bucolo. A journalist and consultant from Sicily, Bucolo is attending his ninth AAM confab, which may make him one of the event's true veterans. He is editor and founder of Museumland, an online publication concerning museums and a valuable resource for institutions on the continent.

Bucolo says he keeps coming back to the annual meeting to learn. "This event helps me make comparisons between museums in the United States and museums in Italy and across Europe," he said. "And what I learn here will provide plenty of material for my publication."

The AAM gathering has proven so informative to Bucolo that he has convinced three museum colleagues in Europe to attend this year.

And what are the differences between the U.S. and Europe when it comes to museums? Bucolo cited Europe's need to maintain old facilities and make them accessible to everyone. But he also mentioned differences that are more telling.

"In Europe there is no tradition of spending Sunday at the museum with the family," he said. "I would like to see museums in Europe promote this idea. Museums in Europe and Italy also do not invest resources in marketing, public relations or education programs. The U.S. is much better at these things."

Bucolo has worked with museums as a consultant on integrating multimedia techniques into their programs. In the early 1990s, the European Commission named him as part of a task force to explore this issue and to make recommendations to the museum world. Called the Medici Framework, this report has been influencing European museums since 1995.

Bucolo is a man of technology and a man of words. But sometimes he finds he has the most influence with his camera.

"Before coming to Denver I was in New York," he said. "I went to the Guggenheim on Friday night, when the museum has reduced admission and stays open late. The line wrapped around the block. I took pictures of this. This will show the Italian museums that staying open late is a good idea."--Dewey Blanton

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