City of Science, Naples, Italy

The City of Science is an area of promotion and popularization of science run by the Foundation IDIS-City of Science and located in the district of Bagnoli in Naples. The area is divided into a multifunctional structure consisting of an interactive scientific museum, a business incubator, a training center, an educational garden and various other places.

The old Science Center was destroyed in a fire on March 4, 2013, but was already reopened the following month with exhibitions in some spaces of the complex . The reconstruction of the main building of the Science Center was scheduled for March 2018, but, following new agreements between the Government and the Municipality, it was decided to rebuild it on the mountain side, lengthening the time. In the meantime, the structure is open to the public in the remaining sections, such as the one dedicated to the sea, insects and, since March 2017, Corporea (the museum of the human body) and the planetarium.

The origin of the City of Science dates back to 1987, when the scientist Vittorio Silvestrini conceived the first edition of the Futuro Remoto festival, held at the Mostra d’Oltremare. The success of the initiative from 1989 to 1992 led to the establishment of the IDIS Foundation. Silvestrini involved Vincenzo Lipardi, a member of the editorial cooperative CUEN, active in university publications. The common militancy in the PCI brought them closer: the political ideas and the concomitant industrial crisis of the Italsider plants in Bagnolithey brought Silvestrini and Lipardi to conceive the construction of a pole in the Bagnoli area, favoring the conversion of the area.

City of science was created by the Foundation itself thanks to a program agreement signed in 1996 between the Ministry of Budget, the Campania Region, the Province of Naples, the Municipality of Naples and the IDIS Foundation. In the years 1992- 1993 was prepared the draft of the structure by architects Massimo PCA & Associates, inaugurating the first settlement in Bagnoli at number 154 Via Coroglio. In 1994 the Campania Region and the Ministry of public educationapprove the final project for the implementation of which the Federconsorzi group factory is acquired and financing the first batch of the project, inaugurated in 1996.

In 2001 the Science Center was inaugurated in its final configuration and in 2003 the project is complete with the opening of the “Congress Center”, the “Higher Education Center” and the “Business Innovation Center”. A last batch, falling within the original project of Studio Pica Ciamarra & Associati, and which involved the construction of an interactive museum of the human body and a latest generation planetarium, the largest in Italy at the time of conception, is being built in2006, but in 2010 it was blocked by the general block of the yards of the Bagnoli area imposed by the junta of Stefano Caldoro. The yard, reopened in mid 2013, was completed with the opening to the public of “Corporea – Museum of the human body” and the planetarium in 2016.

In 2004 the Bassolino junta acquired direct control of the structure, founding the in-house company Città della Scienze scpa, 51% of the Campania Region and 49% of the IDIS Foundation. The following year the presidency was entrusted to Luigi Nicolais, with Silvestrini managing director. In this phase, Lipardi leaves the scene, moving on to a position of executive at the Municipality of Naples in the Jervolino junta. Silvestrini returned to the presidency in 2007, for a short time, with Clementina Chieffo managing director. In contrast to the regional management, Silvestrini will resign very soon, forcing the Region to commission the structure, entrusted to Chieffo.

In the aftermath of the settlement of the Caldoro junta in Via Santa Lucia, the City of Science scpa is liquidated, bringing the museum structures and the congress center back to the hands of the IDIS Foundation, while the Business Center remains under management in the Region with a new company in -house, Campania Innovation. The latter will finally be liquidated in 2013, also reporting the Business Center (renamed “Incubator”) under the direct management of the Foundation. Since 2011, Lipardi has returned to the management of the structure, taking on the role of managing director, with Silvestrini president and Luigi Amodio general manager. However, the Foundation inherits an important budget hole from the previous regional management, which soon compromises the structure’s activities.

The fire and the reconstruction
On March 4, 2013, on the day of closure to the public, a large arson attack destroyed four of the six sheds of the City of Science, corresponding to the entire Science Center. Only the structures on the mountain side (the Congress Center and the Incubator) and, on the sea side, the Teatro Galilei 104 managed by the “Le Nuvole” cooperative, the shed of the restaurant and the building which houses some offices are saved. Through the crowdfunding platform DeRev a campaign is launched for the collection of funds necessary for reconstruction. Following the fire, thousands of people gather in Naples in a flash mob on March 10th. Carlo Rubbialaunches a support committee for the reconstruction of Città della Scienza to which intellectuals include Claudio Abbado, Renzo Piano, David Gross and some physicists from CERN. The rapper Italian Clementino shot the video for her single ‘O vient in the fire area.

On November 7, 2013 the museum reopens in temporary sheds with the exhibition Futuro Remoto 2013, with the brain as its theme, and with an exhibition on puppies and embryos of dinosaurs from Australia. On August 14, 2014 Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and the Mayor of Naples Luigi De Magistris sign a program agreement for the reconstruction of the Science Center on the same site as the destroyed building, although it is a few meters backward to allow the restoration of the coast line within the new redevelopment projects of the ex Bagnoli Futura area. The Foundation therefore proceeds to an international architectural design competition, won in July 2015 by architects Valerio Ciotola and Andrea Guazzieri within a team of eight companies (group leader Stige & Partner), out of a total of 98 projects admitted. The process for the reconstruction, however, suffered a setback following the entry of Invitaliain the management of the redevelopment project of the Bagnoli area: the new project developed by Invitalia provides for a withdrawal of the new science center on the mountain side, in an area still to be reclaimed.

Despite the opposition of the Foundation, which fears a significant lengthening of the reconstruction time, the management agency imposes the overcoming of the 2014 program agreement and the transfer of the science center on the mountain side, a decision that definitively puts in crisis the project of reconstruction, currently suspended. The stop to the project triggers a serious institutional crisis which sees the two founders, the president Silvestrini and the managing director Lipardi, oppose the future of the City of Science:against the Invitalia project, considering the realization of the strategic Science Center for the relaunch of the structure, the second would like to give priority to internationalization and business incubation activities. The worsening of the Foundation’s debt framework (with around 13 million liabilities) overlaps with the institutional crisis, forcing the President of the Region, Vincenzo De Luca, to commissariate the City of Science starting from 1 December 2017, raising the previous leadership.

Current Exhibitions

Europe’s first interactive museum entirely dedicated to the human body. The beyond5 000 m² exhibition are organized into three floors and thematic islands.

3D Planetarium
The most technologically advanced planetarium in Italy. In addition to documentaries focusing on space and astronomy, there is also room for other scientific journeys.

Exhibit ‘The sea’
The exhibition focuses on life in our seas, ecosystems and hydrogeological instability, hosts aquariums, multimedia and interactive installations. The theme of the management of marine resources also finds space.

Insects & Co.
An exhibition itinerary of over 200 m² made up of six thematic islands: A silent invasion, All together, The art of deception, How are we made ?, But do insects… fall in love ?, Lurking predators.

The new little workshop
In the area accessible to children up to ten years of age, the sections “I and the others”, “Matter”, “Nature” are housed. At the children’s workshop it is possible to interact with Bit, the virtual mascot of the City of science. Currently some of the content has been moved to use the space for temporary exhibitions.

The following laboratories are currently active: The insect house, GNAM village, the Fab Lab for children and the Reporteen School.

Exhibitions destroyed
The museum was accessible through a series of entrances, each of which represented a scientific discipline including, for example, biology, astronomy and physics.. The exhibition pavilions are divided according to the scientific experiences proposed.

Gym science
It had classical physics as its main theme. Through this section it was possible to know the dynamics of different natural phenomena such as: the discharge of lightning, the perception of colors through light, the force of gravity, etc. It was also possible to know in a few simple steps the evolution of the human species and the adaptation between different ethnic groups.

It was a cinematic odeon equipped with a dome screen, capable of reproducing the star system. The particular inclination of the stalls allowed the supine observer to have a total vision of the space. The computer also, at the request of the public, allowed to locate any known star and to project it on the screen.

Officina dei piccoli
Divided into sections according to age (0-3, 4-6, 7-9 years), this pavilion of over 700 m² allowed children to learn science by playing. Through the interactive system it was possible, for example, to discover the mechanism of “double bottoms”, to follow the “movement” of sound waves, to understand how periscopes and kaleidoscopes work.

Temporary exhibitions
A 1700 m² pavilion made it possible to set up exhibitions at particular times of the year such as, for example, “Gnam”, during the winter season, dedicated to nutritional and dietetic information, ” Pompei “, during the summer, set up to involve the visitor in the events that buried the Osco-Roman city in the eruption of Vesuvius in 79.

The City of Science model integrates an interactive scientific museum, an area dedicated to the training and creation of entrepreneurship in the South. It also has a series of spaces dedicated to events and conferences.

Business Innovation Center
The BIC, with an incubator for new companies specializing in ICT (Information & Communication Technology) and environmental services and services to local and regional authorities.

Advanced Training Center
The CAF, with the aim of enhancing and qualifying the potential to support innovation and development processes. Since 2001 Idis-City of Science Foundation boasts a “Congress Center” with numerous rooms.

Science Center
The Science Center, is an interactive scientific museum, focused on experiential itineraries with over 10,000 m² of exhibition area, educational workshops, exhibition areas.

Visitors are involved in the direct experimentation of scientific phenomena present in nature and in daily life, that is, they are invited to observe, reproduce and analyze the phenomena.

The Science Center is open to both teachers and students: the educational offer is divided into various types of interventions such as guided tours, educational activities, mini campuses, updating teachers, setting up school workshops. Each proposed activity is tested in projects involving networks of schools, universities and local authorities .

Congress Center
The Events and Congress Space is a structure with areas for organizing congresses, events, conventions and exhibitions. It was born from the recovery of an old factory .

Association of Friends of Science City
The “Friends of Città della Scienza” Association, voluntary and non-profit, is an association of natural and legal persons that supports the IDIS – Città della Scienza Foundation, aiming to enhance their activities, promoting and spreading their missions.