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Understanding Past and Present Mars: The Search for Water

In collaboration with the Embassy of Italy and the Italian Cultural Institute of Washington DC. it is my distinct pleasure to share with you the extraordinary work of Dr. Roberto Orosei and the Marsis team working on finding evidence of the presence of water below the surface of Mars. Dr. Orosei is a distinguished astrophysicist who is the principal investigator of the latest developments of the Marsis research project currently searching for proof of detecting water below the surface of Mars.  Enjoy the video. We would like to give credit for the images to Giuseppe Buccaria.                                            

Dr. Roberto Orosei
Astrophysicist, Principal Investigator of the Marsis Project

“Dr. Roberto Orosei was born in Reggio Emilia, Italy. He studied at the University of Bologna and received a Ph.D. degree from the University of Rome “La Sapienza”. After spending two years as a Research Fellow at the European Space Research and Technology Centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, he moved to the Institute for Space Astrophysics in Rome, where he participated in the design and realization of instruments for solar system exploration missions.

He is a science team member of space experiments for the Rosetta, Mars Express, and Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer missions of the European Space Agency, and for NASA’s Cassini, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Dawn and Juno probes. He is the principal investigator of the MARSIS radar on board ESA’s Mars Express spacecraft, which provided evidence of the presence of liquid water beneath the South polar cap of Mars.

He is a member of the Italian Astronomical Society and of the International Astronomical Union. Main belt asteroid 1993 RJ3 has been named 19224 Orosei in 2007. He currently works at the Institute for Radioastronomy in Bologna and teaches a course of astrobiology at the University of Bologna.”


Biorobotics Made in Italy

Prof. Paolo Dario shares with the viewers his work with bio robotics that dates back to his youth from innovations related to artificial heart, artificial hands, and artificial arms. His approach to bio robotics reflects the intersection between science and engineering, robotic ethics, and robotics as intrinsically interdisciplinary. In collaboration with the Embassy of Italy and the Cultural Institute of  the Embassy of Italy in Washington, DC we invite you to view the video.

Paolo Dario
Professor of Biomedical Robotics and Pro-Rector for University’s Third Mission School of Advanced Studies, Sant’Anna, Pisa, Italy

Paolo Dario is Professor of Biomedical Robotics and Pro-Rector for University’s Third Mission at the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy. He has been Founding Director of The BioRobotics Institute and Founding Coordinator of the PhD Program in Biorobotics at the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies. He has been and is visiting researcher, professor and fellow at various universities and scientific institutions in Europe, USA, the Middle East and Asia. His current research interests are in the field of bio-robotics and bionics, and include surgical robotics, micro/nano devices for endoscopy, bio-inspired devices and systems, and assistive and companion robots. Paolo Dario is the author of 440+ journal publications (Scopus), his H-Index is 73 (Scopus) and 98 (Google). He is co-author of 50+ international patents and co-founder of 5 start-up companies. Paolo Dario has coordinated many large national and European projects, and he served in many EU Committees. He is Founding Editorial Board Member of the Journal “Science Robotics”, Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering and Editor-in-Chief of the new IEEE Transactions on Medical Robotics and Bionics. Paolo Dario is an IEEE Life Fellow and a Fellow of the European Society on Medical and Biological Engineering. He served as President of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society and received several prizes and Awards, including the 1996 Joseph Engelberger Award for Medical Robotics, the 2014 IEEE RAS George Saridis Leadership Award, and the 2017 IEEE RAS Pioneer Award for Biorobotics.


Distant Sounds: A concert by the artists of the music ensemble Modern Musick, in residence in the Georgetown University Music Program

The Italian Research Institute of Georgetown College is pleased to share with our audience Distant Sounds, a concert by the music ensemble Modern Musick, organized by Prof. Del Donna and taught by Prof. McCann. During the challenging months the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the lives of our students, faculty, and staff, the Distant Sounds concert offers us the profound and soothing effect of music.

Distant Sounds

Modern Musick
Risa Browder – Baroque Violin
John Moran – Viola Da Gamba & Barque Cello
Dongsok Shin – Harpsichord

Johann Sebasitan Bach (1685 – 1750)
Sonata in G major for violin and basso continuo, BWV 1021
Adagio
Vivace
Largo
Preseto

Arcangelo Corelli (1653 – 1713)
Sonata in C major for violin and basso continuo, op. 5, no. 3
Adagio
Allegro
Adagio
Allegro
Allegro

Marin Marais (1656 – 1728)
Sonnerie de Sainte-Geneviève du Mont de Paris
for violin, viola da gamba, and basso continuo

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 – 1750)
Sonata in G major, BMV 1027/1039
arranged for violin, viola da gamba, and basso continuo
Adagio
Allegro ma non tanto
Andante
Allegro moderato


The present concert was featured as part of the course “Live Music in the Context of a Pandemic” offered by the Georgetown University Music Program. It was created by profs. Bryan McCann (Chair, History Department) and Anthony R. DelDonna (Director, music program and taught in spring semester 2021. Each week, the course featured live discussions with professional musicians across the globe (via Zoom) to learn how they have responded to the Covid-19 pandemic, especially their loss of performance opportunities and related activities such as masterclasses and residencies. The discourse was especially attentive to the ways in which professional musicians responded to the multiple challenges presented by the pandemic in order to make their music heard. The discussions with artists were then followed by recorded performances contributed created expressly for the course. 

The present video features the early music ensemble Modern Musick, who are in residence in the Georgetown University Music Program. Modern Musick specializes in music of the early modern period, specifically the Baroque (ca. 1570-1720) and Pre-Classic/Classic era (ca, 1720-1800). The musicians on the video include Risa Browder (baroque violin), John Moran (baroque cello, viola da gamba) and Dong Sok Shin (harpsichord). The program includes a diverse array of music, with concentration on the Baroque sonatas of Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713) and Marin Marais (1656-1728).

Anthony DelDonna
Professor & Director of the Music Program
Georgetown College

Anthony R. DelDonna teaches courses on European art music with a focus on early modern Italy. His research focuses on the dramatic stage (opera, oratorio, cantata), archival studies, instrumental music and ballet. DelDonna is the author of the monographs Instrumental Music in Late Eighteenth-Century Naples: Politics, Patronage and Artistic Culture (Cambridge University Press, 2020) and Opera, Theatrical Culture and Society in Late Eighteenth-Century Naples (Ashgate Press, 2012); co-editor of The Cambridge Companion to Eighteenth-Century Opera (Cambridge University Press, 2009); co-editor of Music as Cultural Mission: Explorations of Jesuit Practices in Italy and North America (St. Joseph University Press, 2014;) and editor for Genre and Music in the 18th century (Steglein Press, 2008). He is currently finishing the critical edition of La ballerina amante (opera and libretto,) by Domenico Cimarosa and Giovanni Bryan McCann.

Bryan McCann
Associate Professor
Chair, Departmentn of History
Georgetown College

Bryan McCann teaches courses on Colonial and Modern Latin America, particularly Brazil, as well as courses on Comparative and Global History. He has published works on a wide range of topics in Modern Brazilian and Urban History. His books investigate the history of favelas and their relationship to the broader city in Rio de Janeiro, the history of Brazilian radio and popular music, the transformation of Brazil since the 1980s, and the nature of the informal city in Latin America. His current research explores Bus Rapid Transit and Rights to the City in the Global South, analyzing how and why a model of urban transit planning developed in Curitiba, Brazil in the 1970s has been adopted and adapted around the world.


Stefano Boeri Architetti Studio
Leaders in Architecture and Urbanism
The Forest City Projects

The Italian Research Institute of Georgetown College, in collaboration with the Embassy of Italy and the Italian Cultural Institute of Washington, DC is pleased to share the significant work of Stefano Boeri Architetti. Based in Milan, with offices in Shanghai and Tirana, Albania, Stefano Boeri Architetti since 1993 has been dedicated to the research and practice mainly in architecture and urbanism. It has developed architectural designs and regeneration projects in complex environments and in several continents involving professionals, ranging from engineering consultants and landscape architects, to agronomists and even social scientists.

Since 2014 Stefano Boeri Architetti has been working in China, with an office in Shanghai. Amidst the wide series of works currently underway is the Nanjing Vertical Forest, the first Vertical Forest in China: two towers which include in the architecture of the facades 800 trees from 27 local species and 2,500 cascading plants and shrubs. The project Forest City was presented for the first time at the Paris Climate Conference (COP21) as a model of sustainable city, capable of consuming tons of CO2 and generating oxygen in one of the most polluted areas in the world, i.e. the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region.

Since 2015, Stefano Boeri Architetti has been also operating through an office in Tirana, Albania, currently engaged in developing the General Local Plan and the strategic vision of the city. Dubbed “Tirana 2030”, the intervention aims at the redefinition of the Albanian capital as a new metropolitan city.

Besides the General Local Plan of Tirana, Stefano Boeri Architetti is also working on numerous development projects such as the new General Plan for the Republic of San Marino. Moreover, the Studio has recently been appointed to the masterplan of Doha Qatar New Port Project and to the development of the “triangle of Maspero”, a complex of towers and public facilities along the Nile waterfront, in the heart of downtown Cairo. Among the most well-known and relevant built projects, besides Vertical Forest in Milan, are the Villa Méditerranée in Marseille and the House of the Sea at La Maddalena, in Sardinia.

Stefano Boeri

Stefano Boeri was born in 1956 in Milan. In 1980 he graduated in Architecture at Milan Politecnico and in 1989 he received his Ph.D. from the Istituto Universitario di Architettura di Venezia (IUAV). A full Professor of Urban Planning at Milan Politecnico, Boeri has been a guest professor at various universities, including Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design (GSD), In 1993 he founded Multiplicity, a research agency that involves artists, photographers, and analysts and investigates the relationships between geopolitics and urban planning.

Editor of the international magazines Domus (2004-2007) and Abitare (2007-2011), Boeri has published articles in various newspapers and journals including Casabella, Icon, 2G, Archis and Blueprint as well as numerous books, including Il Territorio che Cambia(with A. Lanzani and E. MariniBiomilano, Fare di più con meno(Il Saggiatore, 2012), A Vertical Forest, and instructions booklet for the prototype of a forest city (Corraini, 2015), just to name a few. From 2015 to 2018 he was a member of the scientific committee of the Uffizi Galleries in Florence. During the post-earthquake reconstruction works in central Italy, Stefano Boeri was appointed Urban Planning Expert Consultant for post-earthquake reconstruction.

In November 2018, he was Co-Chair of the Scientific Committee for the first World Forum on Urban Forests. In 2019 he presented in New York the Great Green Wall of Cities project. Since 2020, Stefano Boeri is President of the Scientific Committee of Forestami, the project aimed at planting 3 million trees in the metropolitan area of Milan within 2030. In 2012 he curated São Paulo Calling, an international research project in six major contemporary cities, which resulted in an exhibition in São Paulo, Rome, Mumbai, Nairobi, Moscow, Baghdad and Medellin. In 2017 he was curator of SUSAS (Shanghai Urban Space Art Season), the most important urban planning, architecture
and public art event promoted by the Municipality of Shanghai.

As an architect and urban planner, Stefano Boeri founded Boeri Studio in 1999, together with Gianandrea Barreca and Giovanni La Varra while 2011 saw the establishment of Stefano Boeri Architetti. In 2014, with Yibo Xu, he founded Stefano Boeri Architetti in China, based in Shanghai. Attention to the relationship between city and nature led to the creation of the Milan Vertical Forest, the first prototype of a residential building featuring over 700 trees and 20,000 plants and a model of urban forestation that considers vegetation as an essential element of architecture. He has become one of the main players in the debate on climate change in the field of international architecture.

Stefano Boeri Architetti is currently working on international urban forestation projects such as Vertical Forests in Lausanne, Utrecht, Eindhoven and Nanjing and several Forest Cities projects around the world.


Leonardo da Vinci: Art and Science
by Professor Pietro C. Marani

In collaboration with the Georgetown University Department of Art and Art History, the Department of Italian, the Embassy of Italy, and the Italian Cultural Institute, we invite you to view an interview and commentary by Prof. Pietro Marani, the leading Leonardo scholar. The interview is in the context of Amazing Leonardo, a film by Sky Arte, the Italian television channel dedicated to the arts. The film was produced on the occasion of the celebrations commemorating the 500 years from the death of Leonardo da Vinci (May 2, 1519) with Prof. Pietro Marani as the scientific consultant. Prof. Marani states that Leonardo is “a great artist-scientist because he has made art a science”. He discusses the intersection between art and science that defines Leonardo da Vinci’s lifelong work and unveils the mysteries behind the greatest genius the world has ever known.

Upon pressing play, you will be redirected to Georgetown Box to view the full video . Thank you for your patience.

Professor Pietro C. Marani
Professor of Modern Art and Museology Politecnico of Milan
Former Vice-Director of the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan, Italy

     Full Professor in Modern Art History, he teaches Modern Art History and Museology in the Politecnico of Milan. Member of the Design Ph.D. Team Professor. He has been Director of the Soprintendenza for Cultural Heritage and Vice-Director of the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan, co-Director of the restoration campaign of Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper. He is President of the Ente Raccolta Vinciana, founded 1904, in the Castello Sforzesco, Milan, and member of the Commissione Nazionale Vinciana, founded 1903, in Rome.

He has written more than two-hundred essays and books on Leonardo da Vinci, Francesco di Giorgio Martini, the Lombard artists of the Renaissance, and on the painting and the architecture of Italian Renaissance, and, finally, on problems of museology and restoration. He wrote also on contemporary artists: Peter Greenaway, Igor Mitoraj, Gary Stephens, Alessandro Papetti, Agostino Arrivabene etc. 

He collaborated to the catalogue of the works of art preserved in Milanese Museums: Pinacoteca di Brera, Pinacoteca del Castello Sforzesco, Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, Quadreria dell’Arcivescovado. He was the curator of the catalogue of paintings kept in the Bagatti Valsecchi Museum and of the works of art in the Certosa Museum, Pavia ( with B.Fabjan ). He has published the Catalogue of the Drawings of Leonardo da Vinci and His Circle kept in French Public Museums ( 2008 ). He has collaborated to the two important exhibitions devoted to Leonardo Drawings and manuscripts held in the Metropolitan Museum in New York ( 2003 ) and in the Musée du Louvre, Paris ( 2003 ). 

He has organized and curated various exhibitions in many important cities, i.e. Leonardo da Vinci 1452-1519. The Design of the World ( Milan, Palazzo Reale, 2015 ) on the occasion of the Universal Exhibition, and in other cities of the world ( Montreal; Venice; Milan; Florence; Rome; Tokyo, Turin ). He is a member of the National Committee to celebrate the 5th anniversary of Leonardo death in 2019. Some of his books are translated in eight languages.


Science and Technology: Latest Research on Optics and Photonics

The Georgetown University Italian Research Institute of Georgetown College, in collaboration with the Embassy of Italy and the Italian Cultural Institute, is pleased to share online the latest research on optics and photonics ranging from new laser technology to breakthrough flat lenses by the eminent scientist Federico Capasso, the inventor of the quantum cascade laser, using nanotechnology.

Flattening Lenses: A Technology Revolution
Shrinking Microscopic Lenses
Recent Interview on
Photonics Innovation and the Future of Laser Technology

Professor Frederico Capasso
John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Harvard University

Federico Capasso is the Robert Wallace Professor of Applied Physics at Harvard University, which he joined in 2003 after 27 years at Bell Labs where his career advanced from postdoctoral fellow to Vice President for Physical Research. He has important contributions to optics and photonics, nanoscience, materials science and quantum electrodynamics, including the bandgap engineering technique leading to his invention of the quantum cascade laser, research on metasurfaces including the generalized laws of refraction and reflection, high performance metalenses and “flat optics” in general, and fundamental studies of the Casimir force, including the first measurement of the repulsive Casimir force.

He cofounded EOS Photonics to market Quantum Cascade Laser based sensors of gases. It merged in 2015 with Pendar Medical to form Pendar Technologies (http://www.pendartechnologies.com/) a privately held company with a mission to create intelligent chemistry systems. Capasso is scientific advisor and board member. He is a board member of Metalenz (https://www.metalenz.com/) , which he cofounded in 2016 and is focused on bringing to market metalenses and cameras for high volume markets.

 His awards include the Balzan Prize, the IEEE Edison Medal, the IEED David Sarnoff Award, the American Physical Society Arthur Schawlow Prize in Laser Science, the King Faisal Prize, the AAAS Rumford Prize, the European Physical Society Quantum Electronics Prize, the Wetherill Medal of the Franklin Institute, the Materials Research Society Medal, the Jan Czochralski Award for lifetime achievements in Materials Science, the Rob Wood Prize of the Optical Society of America, the Matteucci Medal of The Accademia dei Quaranta and the Gold Medal of the President of Italy for Meritorious Achievement in cultures and in the arts. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS) and of the Accademia dei Lincei. He holds honorary doctorates from Lund University, Diderot University, the University of Bologna and University of Roma, Tor Vergata.


Abnormal Microglia Activity Associated with Neurological and Psychiatric Disorders

This publication by Dr. Mario Capecchi, Nobel Laureate, & colleagues is a study of genetically defined microglia (the immune cells of the brain) sublineage in mice which has the ability to suppress neurological disorders such as obsessive compulsion and anxiety symptoms  associated with abnormal microglia.

Abstract

Aberrant microglia activity is associated with many neurological and psychiatric disorders, yet our knowledge about the pathological mechanisms is incomplete. Here, we describe a genetically defined microglia sublineage in mice which has the ability to suppress obsessive compulsion and anxiety symptoms. These microglia derive from precursors expressing the transcription factor Hoxb8. Selective ablation of Hoxb8-lineage microglia or the Hoxb8 gene revealed that dysfunction in this cell type causes severe over-grooming and anxiety-like behavior and stress responses. Moreover, we show that the severity of the pathology is set by female sex hormones. Together, our findings reveal that different microglia lineages have distinct functions. In addition, our data suggest a mechanistic link between biological sex and genetics, two major risk factors for developing anxiety and related disorders in humans.

Dr. Mario R. Capecchi
2007 Nobel Laureate in Medicine
Distinguished Professor in
Human Genetics & Biology
University of Utah School of Medicine

Mario R. Capecchi, Ph.D., was born in Verona, Italy, in 1937. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and physics from Antioch College in 1961 and his Ph.D. in biophysics from Harvard University in 1967. After six years on the Harvard School of Medicine faculty he joined the University of Utah as a professor of biology in 1973.

Dr. Capecchi is best known for his pioneering work on the development of gene targeting in mouse embryo-derived stem cells. This technology allows scientists to create mutations in any desired gene, giving them virtually complete freedom to manipulate the DNA sequence in the genome of living mice.

His work in this area revolutionized the study of mammalian biology and is used to understand countless diseases by scientists worldwide. In 2007, he was recognized for this achievement with the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine, which he shared with Oliver Smithies and Martin Evans.

His current research interests include the molecular genetic analysis of early mouse development, neural development in mammals, production of mouse models of human genetic diseases, gene therapy, homologous recombination and programmed genomic rearrangements in the mouse.

Distinguished Professor of human genetics and biology, Dr. Capecchi belongs to the National Academy of Sciences and the European Academy of Sciences and most recently, the National Academy of Medicine. The Nobel Prize tops a long list of worldwide awards and recognition he has received for his scientific achievements.


Latest Research to Target and Test the DDX3X Enzyme in the SARS-CoV-2 Virus that Causes COVID-19

Dr. Giovanni Maga, Director of the Institute of Molecular Genetics IGM-CNR in Pavia, Italy and Head of the DNA Enzymology & Molecular Virology Unit, and his team have focused their research on the use of the enzyme DDX3X RNA to fight emerging viruses such as SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19. In collaboration with the Embassy of Italy and the Italian Cultural Institute of Washington DC, we invite you to watch Dr. Maga’s presentation of his lab current critical scientific research which is the only answer to combat the virus that has completely disrupted our lives.

Dr. Giovanni Maga
Director
Institute of Molecular Genetics IGM-CNR in Pavia
Head of the DNA Enzymology & Molecular Virology Unit

Scientific Interests

Dr. Giovanni Maga has been working since his graduation on the enzymology of genome duplication and repair. His research has focused on the characterization of different enzymatic systems responsible for nucleotide metabolism and the duplication of the genetic information in human cells and viruses. He is also interested in the biochemical pathways involved in coupling the DNA replication and repair machineries to cell cycle regulation in normal vs. tumoral human cells. His interest is devoted both towards the elucidation of basic molecular processes and to the exploitation of novel enzymatic targets for antiviral and anticancer chemotherapy.

Presently he is Director of the Institute of Molecular Genetics IGM-CNR, in Pavia and Head of the DNA Enzymology and Molecular Virology Unit. His main lines of research concern the enzymology of genome replication and repair in eukaryotic cells and viruses, and the identification of novel targets and drugs for antiviral and anticancer chemotherapy

Publications

Dr. Maga is author/co-author of 250 publications in international peer-reviewed journals, which obtained 11549 citations. His h-index is 56 (Google Scholar). He wrote four books for popularizing science and is active in scientific dissemination to the general public on newspapers, television and in public events. He is a collector of antique microscopes.


A Walk in the Exhibition

This year we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the death of Raffaello Sanzio, born on April 6, 1483 in Urbino and died on April 6, 1520 in Rome at the age of 37. A great High Renaissance painter and architect, who with Leonardo and Michelangelo was known as the Trinity of High Renaissance Art.

We  are thrilled to share virtually with our audience  A Walk in the Exhibition, the video of an extraordinary exhibition at the Scuderie del Quirinale in Rome which the Director of the Scuderie del Quirinale, Matteo Lafranconi, has graciously given us permission to show. The exhibition, curated by Director Matteo Lafranconi and Prof. Marzia Faietti, in collaboration with the Uffizi Gallery in Florence gives tribute to Raffaello’s great work and includes around 120 of his works.

Marzia Faietti
Professor of Print & Drawing
University of Bologna
Former Director of the Department of Prints & Drawings At the Uffizi Gallery in Florence

Marzia Faietti, former Director of the “Gabinetto dei Disegni e delle Stampe” at the Uffizi in Florence, currently teaches History of Print and Drawing at the “Scuola di Specializzazione in Storia dell’Arte” of the University of Bologna and at the “Scuola di Specializzazione in Beni storico-artistici” of the “Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore” of Milan. She is associated to the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max-Planck-Institut.

Member of the Editorial Board of the journals “Print Quarterly”, “Nouvelles de l’estampe” and “Rivista d’Arte”, Marzia Faietti holds since 2013 the position of President of the CIHA Italian Committee, as well as Vice-President of the CIHA International Bureau. In September 2017 she was appointed President of the Scientific Committee at the Fondazione Magnani, Reggio Emilia.

Marzia Faietti has lectured and taught widely in Italian and at foreign Universities. She has organized numerous international exhibitions and conferences including the XXXV CIHA World Congress in Florence and she has published papers on international scientific journals. She has been responsible for many exhibitions focusing on the graphic arts collections both in the Pinacoteca Nazionale of Bologna and in the Uffizi, where she has promoted new editorial series, such as the Inventario Generale delle Stampe (General Catalogue of Prints), and she has promoted the “Progetto Euploos” (digital cataloging of the Uffizi drawings).

Her research interests focus mainly on Ferrarese painting of the post-Trident period; on the Bolognese and Emilian painting, prints and drawings of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and their developments in the following centuries; on the graphic language of Andrea Mantegna; on the antiques culture of Parmigianino; on the Italian erotic engraving of the sixteenth century and its relations with antiquity; on Raffaello’s drawings and on  the relationships of Raffaello’s art with poetry and literature. Furthermore, as part of her theoretical study interests, Marzia Faietti conceived the LINEA Project in collaboration with the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max-Planck-Institut.

Matteo Lafranconi
Ph.D/MiBACT, Director, Scuderie del Quirinale, Roma                                                                                                  

Matteo Lafranconi is the Director of the Scuderie del Quirinale, a major exhibition venue in Rome belonging to the Presidency of the Italian Republic and run by the Italian Ministry of Culture through the in-house company ALES SpA.

After musical studies (Piano Diploma, Conservatorio Cherubini, Florence), Matteo Lafranconi specialized in Art History in Rome (La Sapienza University), Naples (Federico II University; master and Ph.D) and Paris (Université de Paris IV Sorbonne), with a post-doctoral specialization in the United States (Washington, The National Gallery of Art; Center for Advanced Studies in Visual Arts) and in Spain (Madrid, Museo del Prado). He realized studies and research in Italian, French, Spanish, and Russian history of art, between XV and XX century, with preference to museology, history of collection, Old Masters’ Drawings, and academic practices.

He edited the Catalogue of the Collections of the XIX century at the National Gallery of Modern Art in Rome (Electa 2006) and signed with Sandra Pinto the volume “Gli storici dell’arte e la Peste (The Art Historians and the Plague) (Electa, 2006). His contributions appeared in the most prominent magazines of art history including “The Burlington Magazine”, “Paragone”, “Prospettiva”, “Perspective”. His essays appeared in many exhibition catalogues, conference proceedings and miscellaneous volumes of his fields of interest. From 2006 to 2012 he was a member of the Scientific Committee of the magazine “Perspective” (Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art, Paris) for XIX and XX century.

He gave lectures and conferences by the main museums and universities in Italy and abroad (National Gallery, London; National Gallery of Art, Washington; Museo del Prado, Madrid; Musée du Louvre, Paris; Hermitage, St. Petersburg). He taught Old Masters’ Drawing and Museology at the Sapienza University in Roma and at the Calabria University.

Matteo Lafranconi was Head of Cultural Programs at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni, in Rome, from 2007 to 2016.

He is a member of the CIHA (Comité International d’Histoire de l’Art) Italy from 2014.


The Latest Scientific Research on the Use of Plasma for COVID-19 Patients


Churchill’s Curtain
A reflection on the COVID-19 crisis

Claudio Magris, 2020

Translated by Dr Sara Hager

On King Charles Street in London there is the Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms where the British Government used to meet during World War II. A few meters below there were rooms, underground ladders, and earth bags that were supposed to protect ministers, generals, functionaries, employees, workers, and service personnel from the German bombs.

Have mercy on us! Today we have heart-wrenching defenses against the attack of one of the most horrible army in History. In the homes of the United Kingdom pain and mourning entered, just as Churchill had announced, but not the Hitler Wehrmacht. There are a few bedrooms. On the wall of some rooms there is a large geographic map where every day battle places, advances, retreats, victories, and defeats were marked. In one of these rooms there is a curtain which one could close in order to cover that large geographic map on the wall.

It is a room-I don’t believe the only one-where at times Churchill slept, as the whisky bottle placed on the night stand near the bed attests. Many years ago while visiting the Museum, I asked why the curtain, given that there were no windows from which light could come in. They told me that Churchill had wanted it. Perhaps, after having indefatigably confronted always new and unpredictable situations on a daily basis, and having resolved not to give up, for a few hours, if it were possible, he did not want to know anything else. He would draw the curtain, which made the war scene disappear from his view, and sending everything to hell would go to sleep, likely after a shot of good whiskey.

Wars can only be won this way, fighting strenuously, but without allowing to be completely absorbed by this fight. You can be invaded by war not only in your own country, but also in the head and in the heart, but without allowing the enemy to occupy all the thoughts and the feelings, defending a small, but free space for the desires, the projects, even if they are futile, the hopes even if they are childish, and the most personal tastes. The enemy also attacks with anxiety and obsession. General mobilization is necessary, but so are the hours of sleep, possibly dreaming something more pleasant than battles.

Perhaps, thanks to that curtain England was not bent. During World War II I was a child. I remember the bombardments and that my parents would carry me as rapidly as possible to the nearest air raid shelter, pathetically inadequate, but not useless. I remember the fear for my father, who was away for a certain period of time, and his heart-felt embarrassment because one of the four eggs that he had been able to buy had broken in his pocket. I remember our displaced relatives from bombed Naples, the Nazi and the Yugoslavian occupation. But I also remember that during the war people were playing cards, they were entertaining themselves, they continued to sin, thus enabling themselves not only to survive, but to live.

In the war against the virus it is imperative to fight observing the prescribed rules because an army in a free exit is destined to lose. It is necessary to be informed, however, it is perhaps harmful or even less useful and draining to remain all day in front of the TV because the pile and the repetition of the news neutralize and diminishes its meaning. We can resist and we can win if realize the danger, also the danger of death, but without thinking only of death and its verbose emphasis. We can resist and we can win if we defend our desires, our pleasures, and our games. What would you do once asked a pious and dreary uncle to young St Luis of Gonzaga, who was playing in the garden, if you were to know that you were going to die in ten minutes? The child answered I would continue to play.

Claudio Magris
Italian writer, author the Danube

Claudio Magris

Claudio Magris, was born in Trieste in 1939. He graduated from the University of Turin, where he majored in German studies. For several years he taught modern German Literature at both the Universiy of Torino and of Trieste. His master thesis, Il mito absuburgico nella letteratura austriaca moderna (Einaudi 1963) is still considered a milestone in the field of Austrian literature studies.

In 1986 he published his first novel, Danube, which was translated in 24 languages. He is the author of numerous novels and essays, translated into many languages as well as a columnist for the Corriere della Sera and other European newspapers.

His numerous publications include: Lontano da dove, Joseph Roth e la tradizione ebraico-orientale, L’anello di Clarisse, Illazioni su una sciabola, Inferences from a Sabre, A different sea, Blindly, Three Plays, La storia non è finita. Etica, politica, laicità, Blameless, Istantanee, and others.

He has received several honorary degrees and numerous awards, among them: Premio Strega, Leipziger Buchpreis zur Europäischen Verständigung, Praemium Erasmianum, Premio Principe de Asturias, Premio Campiello, Premio FIL de Literatura Guadalajara, Premio Qualità della Lettura (Corriere della Sera), Taormina International Award for Literary Excellence, and Kafka Prize, to name a few.


The Climate of the Past

A Lecture by Professor Carlo Barbante

Professor Carlo Barbante, Department of Environmental Sciences from Ca’Foscari University and Institute of Polar Sciences, CNR, our invited guest for our April 14 event on From the Past to the Future: An Exploration of the Scientific Causes & Effects of Climate Change” has sent us the following link to his lecture on Climate of the Past.


Ice Memory Project

The Italian Team of the Ice Memory Project