Italian Museum Shuts Off Free Wifi Because It Attracts Migrants
The museum helped migrants connect with families, but can no longer manage alone.
The Museion, a museum for contemporary art in the German-speaking north Italian city of Bolzano, has turned off its free wireless internet connection because the institution’s WiFi access was attracting too many migrants.
The Museion announced the decision on Wednesday after director Letizia Ragaglia claimed the museum’s free WiFi lead to some “unpleasant situations” involving migrants throughout December, Daily Sabah reports.
“I stand by this decision, which I find legitimate,” Ragaglia insisted, speaking to the German news agency DPA. She said that the museum opened its doors to refugees and migrants since April to allow them to get in touch with their families. However, in recent weeks “the situation got a bit out of hand.”
The director said that some migrants tried to sleep in the museum while others started using the institution’s bathrooms for personal hygiene.
Ragaglia reportedly appealed to local authorities for support in order to relieve the situation but her requests were ignored. The city did not engage with her suggestions which included greater police presence and the establishment of a local migrant center.
As a result, she felt she had no alternative but to “temporarily” block the museum’s WiFi service with a password while the museum was working with reduced staff over the holidays.
The museum indicated that it would reintroduce free WiFi in a restricted capacity in certain areas of the building in the New Year.
The museum’s internet access policy even provided fodder for local politicians seeking to capitalize on the handling of the migrant crisis that has gripped Europe. While the decision was condemned by intellectuals and left-wing parties, it was applauded and supported by supporters of the right wing.
Local leftist leader Guido Margheri called for free WiFi throughout Bolzano, adding that erecting “real and virtual walls against people” was not an adequate solution to the migrant crisis.
On the other side of the political spectrum, far-right politician Filippo Maturi celebrated on his Facebook page that “finally […] something is being done.”
The city of Bolzano is an important passageway for migrants and refugees passing through Europe on their way to Austria, Germany, and northern Europe.
Several cultural institutions are doing what they can to help refugees and migrants. According to NBC News museums across Germany have launched an initiative called Multaka (meeting point) which seeks to help integrate Islamic migrants into society by offering tours of German museums in Arabic.
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