Sicily makes proposal to keep 'Art and Invention' show on track

The government of Sicily may be softening on its threat to cancel a major exhibition of antiquities that was set to open at the Cleveland Museum of Art in late September after showing at the Getty Villa.

Sicilian cultural authorities had threatened to cancel the Cleveland exhibition of “Sicily: Art and Invention Between Greece and Rome,” saying the absence of certain key objects has hurt tourism to Sicily. 

If the Cleveland exhibition was canceled, the J. Paul Getty Museum would be left to foot the bill for Cleveland’s share of expenses – about $300,000 more than it had planned.

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Emiliano Colomasi -- press spokesman for Mariarita Sgarlata, Sicily’s top culture minister – said Sicily has submitted an “economic proposal” to the Cleveland museum that would allow the show to open as planned, the Cleveland Plain Dealer has reported.

“The issue is still not closed,” Colomasi wrote in an email to the newspaper. “Assessor Sgarlata has made an economic proposal to the Cleveland Museum of Art to guarantee the exhibition in Cleveland. At the moment, we are waiting for an answer on the part of the director of the museum.”

The show of more than 100 ancient treasures is a collaboration between Sicily, the Cleveland museum and the J. Paul Getty Museum. It has been at the Getty Villa in Malibu since April 3, with the two institutions to share the $990,000 exhibition costs.

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Regarding the economic proposal, Cleveland museum director David Franklin would say only: “The museum has received a proposal from the government of Sicily and is reviewing it.”

Ron Hartwig, the Getty's vice president of communications, is just as vague: "This is a matter for Cleveland to decide," he said.

The exhibition is set to run at the Getty Villa through Aug. 19.


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