These days, visitors to the website of one of Italy’s most renowned contemporary art museums are met with a twofold invitation: “Book your visit in advance” and “Book your vaccination.”
The Castello di Rivoli, once a palace owned by the Savoy dynasty, recently became one of several Italian museums to join the country’s vaccine drive, following in the footsteps of cultural institutions throughout Europe.
With the rallying cry of “Art Helps,” the museum near Turin has set aside its third-floor galleries for a vaccination center run by the local health authorities. During their shots, patients can enjoy the wall paintings by Claudia Comte, a Swiss artist.
Comte worked with the composer Egon Elliut to create a soundscape that evokes “a dreamlike feeling,” the artist said, and lulls vaccine recipients as they move from room to room before and after the shot.
“Art has an extraordinarily important effect on well-being,” said Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, the museum’s director. She said that she couldn’t have commissioned “a more perfect” backdrop than Comte’s works for a “space to merge the art of healing the body and the art of healing the soul and the mind,” noting that in Italian the words for “to heal” and “curator” came from the same Latin word, “curo.” In history, she said, some of the first museums were former hospitals.