Ilaria Bonacossa, an art historian and curator who formerly directed the Artissima art fair, has been named as the director of a forthcoming museum dedicated to digital art in Milan. Bonacossa had joined Artissima in 2017 and had spent more than four years there.
The state-backed institution, titled MAD (Museum of Digital Art), will be located at the former Albergo Diurno Venezia, a historic Art Nouveau–inspired underground forum near the Piazza Oberdan. It is expected to be completed in 2026. The government has allocated €6 million ($6.7 million) for the project. In a statement, Italy’s culture minister, Dario Franceschini, said the museum will play “a strategic role in the contemporary cultural scene, which is increasingly digitized, connected and globalized.”
Plans for the museum follow the recent opening of another digital arts-focused institution in the city, which officials are seeking to turn into a hub for technological innovation. In October, MEET, a center and exhibition space that supports digital culture and creative technology, opened its doors in a former art-house film theatre known as Spazio Oberdan. The three-floor, 5,000-square-feet space is run by critic Maria Grazia Mattei, who serves as the center’s president and CEO. In a statement, the Italian culture minister’s office said it aims for the new digital art museum to be “in dialogue with MEET.”
The move comes as a major shift for Bonacossa, who is returning to the museum world after years at Artissima, which is known as a launchpad for emerging galleries in Italy. Despite pandemic restrictions that have plagued art fairs large and small, the 2021 edition of Artissima saw a favorable turn out from international dealers and collectors.
Prior to her role at Artissima, Bonacossa served in curatorial and directorial positions at the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in Turin, the Museo Villa Croce in Genova, and the exhibition platform Antinori Art Projects. In 2013, she curated Katrin Sigurdardottir’s Icelandic Pavilion at the Venice Biennale.
Alongside news of Bonacossa’s appointment, Franceschini also announced that five additional candidates have been appointed to run other institutions in Italy’s network of state-owned museums. Axel Hémery and Andrea Viliani have been named directors of the Siena Art Gallery and the Museum of Civilizations of Rome, respectively. Tiziana D’Angelo, Enrico Rinaldi, and Vincenzo Bellelli will run archaeology museums and parks spanning Italian cities Sepino, Paestum, Velia, Cerveteri, and Tarquinia.
On Tuesday, Artissima named Luigi Fassi as Bonacossa’s predecessor. He will serve as the fair’s director for a three-year term from 2022 to 2024. Fassi was previously artistic director at the Museum of Art of the Province of Nuoro (MAN) from 2018 to 2022.