Home Arts Rome’s new cultural master plan at 100 million euros

Rome’s new cultural master plan at 100 million euros

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One of the largest museum and heritage projects in Rome, the National Roman Museum initiative, was launched after the Italian Ministry of Culture recently approved funding of 71 million euros (equivalent to 100 million euros). euros in total) for the cultural program encompassing four major sites in the capital: the Baths of Diocletian, the Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, the Palazzo Altemps and the Balbi Crypt.

The restoration of the four sites, redesigned under a government project called “Urbs, from the city to the Roman countryside”, will take around four years, and includes the restoration of the buildings, the reorganization of the museum’s collections and the opening new exhibition spaces. The masterplan includes the reorganization of the large halls around the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli in the Baths of Diocletian, one of the largest ancient bath complexes in the world, and a new exhibition of the collection of Boncompagni Ludovisi sculptures from the 17th century century at Palazzo Altemps. We asked the director of the National Roman Museum, Stéphane Verger, about the radical new plans.

The Art Newspaper: How will the plan connect the different parts of Rome?

Stephane Verger: This is a project intended not only for museum spaces, but also linked to urban redevelopment plans. I am thinking of the area around Termini station, where the Baths of Diocletian and Palazzo Massimo are located and where the Municipality of Rome and Grandi Stazioni will redevelop the Piazza dei Cinquecento. The idea is to make the Baths of Diocletian an island of culture. For the Campo Marzio, the Palazzo Altemps and the Crypta Balbi, our project is to enhance them within the great tourist route that leads from the Trevi Fountain to the Pantheon, and from Piazza Navona to Castel Sant’Angelo and the Vatican. The Renaissance building Palazzo Altemps is on this road but is not well known to tourists.

Large bronze pieces such as resting boxer (330-50BC) and the Hellenistic prince (2nd century BC), exhibited until now at Palazzo Massimo, find a place at Palazzo Altemps?

We have thought long and hard about how to present Greek sculpture, both originals and Roman copies and recreations of Greek models and styles. Around this fundamental subject, we want to articulate a thematic history at Palazzo Altemps, starting from Antiquity, going back to the Renaissance and Baroque periods. Another of our intentions will be to tell the “biography” of the exhibits, and their long history. I am thinking, for example, of Discobolus (5th century BC), looted by the Nazis and recovered only at the end of the Second World War, a work that is currently on display at the Scuderie del Quirinale in the Arte liberata exposure.

What will be the thematic focus in the other three locations?

The Baths of Diocletian, the Massimo Palace and the Balbi Crypt will trace the history of Rome from its origins to the 20th century. At the thermal baths we will tell how the city was born from the 10th century BC until the time of Emperor Diocletian (4th century AD). In the Palazzo Massimo the Roman Empire will be central, while in the Crypta Balbi we will illustrate Rome today. The Crypt has a magnificent route, created in 2000, which tells of the centuries-old urban stratification of Rome. Archaeological history will be reopened, the museum will be expanded and touch on the modern and contemporary era.

Will other works come out of storage?

Thanks to the opening of new exhibition spaces, we will be able to show many works, some of which have never been seen before, from the collections of the National Roman Museum. In the seven great halls we will reopen at the Baths of Diocletian, for example, there are spectacular finds last seen in the 1960s or 1970s, such as the Artemis of Aricciaa monumental marble statue more than three meters high, after a Greek original from the 5th century.

Is it a museum looking to the future and its relationship to the city?

It is Rome itself that innovates. It is often said that this city is a museum, but it is not so: it is rather a living organism which at all times has been able to reuse the past to build a new present and make it the model of its future. With this global project, we must act on two fronts: on the one hand by describing the complexity of the urban organism of Rome, on the other hand by intelligently placing the creations of contemporary art in the sites of the National Roman Museum . In this spirit, we presented the work of Elisabetta Benassi Empire in the Balbi Crypt [in 2019]: the language of contemporary art helps to understand what urban stratification is in Rome. A museum cannot stand still, but must follow and correspond to the transformations of the city.

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