Behind the scenes: what went on when FAI properties were closed

In 2020, FAI properties were only open for five months but the conservation work never stopped.

In 2020, FAI properties were only able to open for five months. In spite of this period of “forced” rest, deprived of our visitors and put to the test by the contingent difficulties, we continued to take care, check on and monitor each property in a meticulous manner to ensure its preservation while aiming at being able to reopen their doors to the public in total safety.

Every year most FAI properties close during the winter period. It’s a kind of hibernation, which our British colleagues at the National Trust refer to as “putting the house to bed.”

In early 2020, we were about to reopen our doors to the public, but were forced to close everything and “put the house to bed”, with the difficulty and concern of not being able to be present on a daily basis and without full staff due to Covid restrictions.

Thanks to the creation of an emergency network and thanks to the presence of operators on-site, first of all the properties’ custodians, but also those who had safe access to their premises, armed with special authorizations, masks and gloves – the daily tools of our work – we continued to take care of the conservation of the properties and their collections.

The first thing we had to do was to protect the furniture, paintings, art objects, carpets, and other collections by covering them with cloths and special fabrics, in order to protect them from the dust that we would not be able to remove on a daily basis.

To prevent light damage, we closed the shutters and drew the curtains – even those on the beautiful stained glass window at Casa Bortoli in Venice – and turned off the chandeliers and lights in our homes, even those that are works of art in themselves, like Dan Flavin’s neon lights at Villa Panza in Varese.

We have sheltered from the light, in their air-conditioned drawers, the works on paper of the Guido Sforni Collection, at Villa Necchi Campiglio in Milan, which we usually put to rest every three months.

And we turned on the restorers’ flashlights to observe artworks and textiles more carefully than usual; we constantly monitored the temperature and humidity in the rooms and in the storage rooms, we let in natural light and fresh air when possible to maintain stable conservation conditions.

Many FAI properties have re-opened to the public as of February 3rd. Click here for up to date information.