On 6 May the Historical Archives of the European Union (HAEU) welcomed a diverse and enthusiastic crowd of around 2500 people to visit its grounds at Villa Salviati and enjoy a full day’s programme of cultural, educational and fun activities.
With the exception of 2020, the Archives has staged annual open day activities since its transfer to Villa Salviati in 2012. Dieter Schlenker, Director of the Historical Archives, explained that “we welcome the public so that they can enjoy a day visiting Villa Salviati and its wonderful gardens, but also to inform them about the Historical Archives and its mission to preserve Europe’s memory.”
History, music, art and games
“Magnificent!” “Beautiful!” “I had no idea!”
These were common refrains among the more than 1000 visitors who registered in advance to follow the guided visits of Villa Salviati and the underground deposits of the Historical Archives. Organised by the Florence delegation of FAI, highschool students from the Liceo Statale Scientifico Antonio Gramsci and the Liceo Giovanni Pascoli led the tours in the villa and gardens, whilst HAEU archivists accompanied visitors through the archival vaults and explained the purpose of the Archives in Florence.
In addition to guests touring the grounds, hundreds of children filled the park and gardens throughout the entire day, taking part in activities put on by the circus association Passe-Passe, a concert by the Scuola di Musica di Fiesole, and Europe-centred educational activities developed by the Historical Archives. Their fascination with the Villa was further stimulated by historical reenactors from the Maltese company San Michele and the Tercio de’ Medici group from nearby Prato, dressed in period costumes from the epoch of Cosimo II.
Live readings of selected documents from the history of the European Union and images and sounds from the Archives’ audiovisual collections, playing on loop around the Salviati campus, brought visitors’ attention to the more contemporary history of a united Europe.
The Open Day also marked the inauguration of In Varietate Concordia, an art exhibit of 11 contemporary works of art curated by DFTM1 and promoted in collaboration with the Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze and Firenze Città Nascosta. The exhibit, installed in various locations across the Villa and its gardens, will continue through 21 July 2023.
Photo by Marco Benvenuti.