#Girlisthenewtime, a women-only Empty event at La Galleria Nazionale for Museum Week

Girls, girls, girls....  What happens when a gang of girls hang out at in an empty art gallery?  That's the question we threw out for Museum Week 2017 at La Galleria Nazionale, in a collaboration instameet #GirlisTheNewTime with myself and GirlsInMuseums.  We brought together approximately 16 women whose single prerequisite was passion for the arts and giving them full reign of the museum including Conversation Piece (the latest exhibition) and behind-the-scenes of Body to Body, a capsule show focusing on 15 female artists' perspective on feminism.  

What is the purpose of the Empty, you may ask? For me, any opportunity to bring people inside an Italian museum, gallery or cultural site is an opportunity to inspire dialog that spreads outside of the museum and inspires visitors to come back inside.  Italy has an incredible wealth of cultural sites, but many get an unwarranted wallflower as more popular museums (hey, Uffizi and Musei Vaticani) are bucket list must sees.  I am to change that, or at least make a little dent by bringing Italy's museums to your small screens.

As a participant, I tend to take a roll of art voyeur and I've noticed in my photos that art work takes center stage and the viewer is simply a supporting role.  It makes sense, I love art. (And, Yes, I will lurk for what seems like hours by a favorite painting or sculpture, waiting to catch the right moment).  For #GirlIsTheNewTime, I set out to be, well, decisive and take individual (or small group portraits) of each participant where I would capture the vibe of each woman, and let art work - whether partially in frame or out - be a cultural background.  I wanted to force dialog between myself and each participant, a technique I've honed over the years of being extremely shy.

A week dedicated to women and museums is not enough.  Nor are Emptys, but I do think continuing the dialog on the importance of women in the arts is fundamental, and even more so, the dialog about the female communication.  Do I think that the dialog that women have with art is any different from that of a man? I couldn't tell you, I am so XX, but I do think the dialog among women is complicated.

Scroll down, catch up on all the scenes from #GirlIsTheNewTime in Instagram and in my VSCO journal.  Thank you to all the participants who patiently allowed me to push them around the galleries in search of a great vibe.

Wanna join us? For more info, here's where and how I started in 2014 and how it has spread from La Galleria Nazionale to Milan's La Triennale and GAM, back to Rome and the Vatican. Email me at

Let's get empty . . . me + you and #emptylagallerianazionale

I was raised to be a museum geek.  When I was child, my mom would take us to the Philadelphia Museum of Art almost every Saturday afternoon and said it was our playground-  Sol Le Witt's On A Blue Ceiling was our sky, Cy Twombly's Fifty Days at Iliam our playfround, and Peter Paul Ruben's Prometheus Bound our babysitter.  She'd let me cut school for a morning at the Barnes (original location), and my parents would rev us up with weekends in Washington DC, (my sisters and me fighting over what order to visit all of the Smithsonians) and New York (name a museum, we were there).  If anything, we wanted to live in museums like Claudia Kincaid, so my latest obsession makes sense:

Mornings in a museum all to myself.   Or better yet, organized visits to La Galleria Nazionale with you during hours that are normally closed to the public.   You read correctly:  closed galleria, all yours, but you have to let us know--  aka the next evolution of all these Emptys in Rome and Milan Darius and I have been hosting.  All you have to do is send a message via Instagram direct message to @LaGalleriaNazionale.


12 December 2016


Wanna see what La Galleria Nazionale looks like empty?


For past  Empty projects I have hosted...

Italy's Presidential Palace and Instagram

Perhaps the one good thing Silvio Berlusconi did was put the Italy's Prime Minister role on the map as the Presidente del Consiglio dei Ministri della Repubblica Italiana, but how many of you know about the Presidente della Repubblica, aka the Prez of Italy? More likely, you 've heard of the Quirinale, that gorgeous residence and office of President Mattarella, a place that has more history, art and style than Buckingham Palace, and better dressed security. Over my life in Rome, I've only been able to snag a visit to the Quirinale once with a decisive search for a fresco by Melozzo da Forlì, and virtually meandered its gardens and halls via its virtual tours [English is narrated by a winsome Stanley Tucci and Greta Scacchi!], but it wasn't until last week that I had it all to myself IRL.  Instagram invited me and 14 Instagrammers for a walk through an #EmptyQuirinale, for a private after hours visit where we sized ourselves up with the 6 ft 2 in corrazieri (carabinieri honor guards), walked through the President's kitchen, garden and hallways, and selfied our way into history. Italian newspaper La Repubblica joined us and caught all the action in celluloid- check me at 1 minute 25 seconds.

To join in on the fun, click #EmptyQuirinale-  and for my personal perspective, here's a Steller Story.

#EmptyVatican, totally #blessed with Instagram

A photo posted by Erica Firpo (@ericafirpo) on Nov 3, 2015 at 12:26am PST

I like art.  It's pretty obvious if you happen to hear me chatter, whether face to face or on social media.  I love going to galleries, meandering museums, investigating installations-  it doesn't matter, I just need to have an art experience.  I could probably call it an addiction, which may explain why I am so adamant about being first in line at the Venice Biennale, finding art tags on Instagram or helming my own Insta-artsy project #EmptyMuseo.   Combining my love for art and the fun I can visually have on Instagram, The Professor (aka Darius) and I have been curating some great art meet ups in Italy's galleries over the past year.  The latest installation was October 26's #EmptyVatican the love child of a great coffee talk between me, Darius and the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums, an organization focused on bringing together restoration projects and donors within the walls of the museums.   Darius and I would select a group of 10 Instagrammers, including ourselves, based on interest, aesthetic, community participate, and committed desire to share Italy's cultural heritage, and let the world know about the Vatican Patrons and its free app Patrum.

The game plan:  The Vatican Patrons would curate an early morning away from the crowds and in non-accessible areas of the museums.  So yes, the Galleria of the Maps, Raphael Rooms, Lapidarium and Sistine Chapel were all ours.  To be clear, we abided by the rules of the Vatican Museums and did not use flash, nor take any photos or videos in the Sistine Chapel.  With just 10 photographers,  #EmptyVatican increased followers by more than 35% and brought the Vatican Museums and Vatican Patrons to the fore front of international press-  as seen and written about in  The Guardian, Condè Nast Traveler, Condè Nast Traveller India, Swide, Lonely Planet,Catholic Herald… and more

The Players:  @Aivenn, @DavidPinto_, @EricaFirpo,@Helium_Tea, @MarkoMorciano,@MatteoAcitelli, @Mattego,@MBMissMary, @Saverome,@Sherokee

Click below to see all the photos.  And give me a shout if you want to join the next #emptymuseo


#EmptyGAMilano and UBS's Don't Shoot the Painter

There is nothing quite like GAM, Milan's Gallery of Modern Art.  The neoclassical Villa Reale is an incredible backdrop for art from any era, and even better when contrasting the very modern with Milan days of yore.  On September 28, 2015, I hosted #EmptyGAMilano to coincide with the closing of the UBS exhibitionDon't Shoot the Painter - 110 paintings shown together from the bank's vast corporate collections.  Joining me were Instagram's Kristin Watts, Tamu McPherson of All the Pretty Birds,, AndyKate and many more.

For more information on organizing or participating in an #EmptyMuseo, read here and please email me

#EmptyMuseo in Milan at La Triennale

Hello, Milan!

Darius and I hosted our very first #EmptyMuseo at Milan's La Triennale to coincide with the Milan Expo 2015 and the Triennale's exhibit Art and Food.  Joining us were, PestoVerde, ElisaPella, DailyBreakfast, Milano Secrets, GnamBox and more.

A warm Thank You to La Triennale's incredible hospitality and Italy's Ministry of Culture who support us in our events. For more information on our Empties, please write me at and join up!

My idea of fun: Rome's GNAM #emptymuseo


For those of you who haven't figured it out yet, my idea of fun is meandering the hallways and exhibition spaces of a museum.  Any museum will do, though I tend to have a penchant for those with monumental paintings, colorful walls or anything Twombly.

Since Instagram hit the scene, I've had a lot fun "visiting" museums, galleries, art fairs and spaces thanks to hashtags like #artwatchers and #emptymet which let me spy on what you are sizing up.   And I get the opportunity to share the spaces and places I love through my own gallery.  Over the past few years, I've been passionately obsessed with Rome's Galleria Nazionale di Arte Moderna, aka GNAM-- a modern and contemporary national art gallery that is made up of Italy's very best, from the Unification to the present, plus some non-Italians that you know and love.  And it has everything I love--  enormous 19th century paintings, Futurists-a-go-go, Pistoletto, Clemente, Twombly, Duchamp,  a hall made up of broken mirrors and temporary shows.

Thanks to the support of the Italian Ministry of Culture, I joined some friends for a morning of #emptymuseo, cìoe, a visitor-free walk through GNAM in December-- it was an opportunity to capture the museum as we love it.   And I want to do more. If you have a museum you want to walk through, let me know. I'll happily meet up.

December 2014: Matteo Giannini  @mattego, Darius Arya @SaveRome, Livia Hengel @Helium_Tea, Ivan Corrodori @Aivenn


Sala del Mito
Sala del Mito
matteo specchio
matteo specchio