Appel à communication : « L’Aquila – The Future of the Historical Center » (Florence, 8-15 sept 2014)

Italie - Centre historique de L’Aquila, Abruzzo © CNR-ITC L’Aquila - World Monuments FundL'Aquila - The Future of the Historical Center (Florence, 
8-15 Sep 2014)

September 8 - 15, 2014
Deadline: May 25, 2014

L'Aquila - The Future of the Historical Center: A Challenge for Art 

Summer School of the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz - 
8 - 15 September 2014

Concept and organization: Carmen Belmonte, Elisabetta Scirocco and 
Gerhard Wolf

The devastating earthquake that struck L'Aquila on 6 April 2009 created 
a major rupture in the social and cultural history of the city. After 
dealing with the immediate aftermath of the natural disaster through 
the construction of the so-called "New Towns," the necessity of 
securing the city's buildings has paralyzed the historical center. 
Today, ongoing restorations are accompanied by a lively debate, 
requiring the expertise of specialists from various disciplines. It is 
crucial that art historians participate in the discussions on the 
complex issues of reconstruction, restoration, and preservation, that 
are deciding how to return the city to its citizens and to ensure the 
survival of its monumental heritage.

The KHI summer school invites young art historians and scholars from 
neighboring disciplines to discuss the future of historic centers, 
focusing particularly on the critical as well as the ethical roles of 
Art History. The case of L'Aquila provides an opportunity to reflect 
broadly upon the effect of natural disasters on civic life and cultural 
heritage and its management.

Located on site, the summer school will take a diachronic approach to 
the study of the city of L'Aquila, both inside and outside the walls, 
beginning with its medieval foundation as a free 'civitas' disputed by 
popes and emperors, through Spanish rule, up to the urban 
transformations of the Fascist period. Located in a strategic position 
on the 'Via degli Abruzzi', L'Aquila has long been a market town; its 
main raw materials, wool and saffron, reached the markets of northern 
Italy and beyond the Alps. The city of L'Aquila serves as a shrine that 
houses the bodies of Pope Celestine V and Bernardino of Siena. 
Throughout its history, the city has therefore been a place of 
exchange, a center of culture and artistic patronage, and an important 
pilgrimage site beginning with the institution of the plenary 
indulgence in 1294 at Collemaggio.

The close study of the historical city, its urban structure, its works 
of art, and its dispersed and decontextualized collections, together 
with an awareness of the dynamics of destruction and reconstruction of 
its cultural heritage, will call attention to the future of L'Aquila 
and to the methodological questions related to the preservation of its 

What techniques and methodologies allow mediation between aesthetic and 
historical values? Is it possible to find a balance between the 
protection of heritage and the needs of the citizens of L'Aquila; 
between the desire for change and the impulse to return to the forms of 
the past? Issues such as reconstruction, integration, and authenticity 
versus fake are central topics to be addressed.

The KHI summer school welcomes applications from the fields of Art 
History, History, Architectural History, Urban History, Conservation 
and Restoration, from graduate students, doctoral candidates, and 
scholars who are embarking on post-doctoral research. The number of 
participants is restricted to 15. Each participant is expected to 
contribute to the success of the course not only with a presentation, 
but also by actively engaging in the discussions, which will be held 
primarily in English.

Applications should include: a letter of interest comprising a research 
statement, a one-page CV, and a presentation proposal (300 words). 
These materials can be written in English, German, or Italian. It is 
not necessary for proposals to deal with all the questions introduced 
above. Presentations will be held in English and can address an object, 
a monument, or a topic regarding L'Aquila, its collections, or its 
surroundings (including sites such as Rosciolo, Bominaco, Fossa, 
Sulmona), as well as issues of conservation and restoration.

Accommodation will be offered by the Institute, which will also 
reimburse participants for half of their travel costs and provide a per 
Applications should be sent by May 25, 2014 to:, and

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