Italy Mobilizes to Rebuild Naples Science Museum

The Italian Ministry of Economic Development, Infrastructure and Transport, the Ministry for Territorial Cohesion, the local government, and the mayor of Naples have agreed on a plan to make available €20 million for its reconstruction, according to an article in La Repubblica. The European Union also appears willing to look into the situation.

And government bodies aren't the only ones lending a hand. A crowdsourcing campaign by the social platform DeRev has received more than €8800 in pledges. And the online platform Cambiomerci is inviting professionals and companies to contribute their expertise or equipment to help the complex resume its activities as soon as possible.

The City of Science was home to a 12-year-old interactive science museum, which was almost completely destroyed in the blaze. The complex's educational and conference facilities and business incubator remain operational, the City of Science announced yesterday. The City of Science was widely held as a symbol that science could help transform an abandoned industrial site and rejuvenate a struggling city. The "Città della Scienza still represents a model of development … in an area in southern Italy where many dreams had already been shattered," writes Alessandra Zanazzi, a former employee of the City of Science who now works as a national project manager at the Arcetri Astrophysical Observatory in Florence, in an e-mail to ScienceInsider.

"We will rebuild everything," Vittorio Silvestrini, a physicist who founded the City of Science and presides over the administration council of the Institute for the Diffusion and Valorization of the Scientific Culture Foundation that runs it, told La Repubblica Napoli. The construction of a museum for the human body, Corporea, was already under way but had to stop for 2 years due to the lack of funds, Silvestrini said. "Now the funds are there, we need 8 months to finish."

The Italian media is also reporting growing suspicions of arson as the cause. La Repubblica Napoli mentions the speed and extent of the fire without the presence of wind, the identification of at least six points of outbreak, two of them associated with chemical substances, and the proper functioning of the museum's electrical and fire systems.