The roots of the word "museum" come from the Ancient Greek "Μουσεῖον" (Mouseion), which denotes a place or temple dedicated to the Muses (the patrons of the arts in Greek mythology), therefore, a museum would be the house of the muses. Today's concept of these institutions that are of artistic, cultural, historical or scientific importance is to present and conserve a collection of artifacts. The first museum was founded by Aristotle in the 4th century BC, for the collection of specimens for his zoological studies. The concept of the modern museum began to take shape during the Renaissance. Back then it renewed the interest in classical art and architecture and brought together wealthy merchants and banking families, to form collections of art as symbols of status. Today, there are over 50000 public museums and only a few are that interesting as the MAXXI museum in Rome.
This museum is a national museum of contemporary art and architecture and it is designed by the great architect, Zaha Hadid. She won the international competition submitting a design that included five separate structures, of which only one was completed.
Bringing one dynamic design that deconstructed fluidity into the identity of a “static” city like Rome (because of its classical heritage), Zaha created a long-lasting debate. The fact that the museum object participates actively to the location, triggered a renovation program of public attractions in the Flaminio neighborhood and gave a lot of points to the group that cheered the building of this futuristic object.
The shape and presence of the building seem completely incompatible with the surrounding residential area. Unlike the comforting and familiar shapes of the apartment buildings next to it, MAXXI, a sleek and smooth structure created from glass/steel/concrete, emits energy that suggests power and aloofness.
Natural lighting is something that was particularly taken care of and expressed through the thin concrete beams on the ceiling, together with glass covering and filtering systems. This contributes not only to the interior ambiance but also to the general look of the object. The beams, the staircases, and the linear lighting lead the visitors through the interior walkway, which ends in the large space on the third level.
If you are a fan of contemporary art, don't skip this one. MAXXI actually consists of "MMAXXI art" and "MAXXI architecture". In the yard, there are expositions of large-scale works of art. It is undoubtedly one of the best ways to spend a day in Rome. The permanent collection grows and it is a must-visit if you would like to see works by Gerhard Richter, Vanessa Beecroft, Grazia Toderi, William Kentridge, and archives of architects, such as Aldo Rossi, Pier Luigi Nervi, and Carlo Scarpa.
Cover photo credits © kanakari/ Wikimedia
Like this story?
Get more! Subscribe to our monthly inspiration newsletter.