Contemporary art in Rome, the Maxxi museum

Every cloud has a silver lining, right? Right? Well, I don’t really know. I’ve just learned about this sentence. I know “non tutti i mali vengono per nuocere”, which pretty much translates to “not all evils hurt” and needed to know the English version of it because this is what I thought after spending an extra day in the always exciting Rome and visited Maxxi, the National Museum of the 21st Century Arts. Long story short, I showed up at Ciampino Airport to catch my plane twenty-six hours too early, totally ignoring that my mind had tricked me, and convinced to take my flight. Obviously, it was not possible, and I had to have one of those emergency calls with a friend to get a couch for the night. Luckily my friend had no problem with me crashing over and had just moved into a large, modern loft in historic Rome neighborhood Flaminio, which didn’t really hurt either.

Next day I still had some time to spare before heading again to Ciampino, so I decided to go out and visit Maxxi, an enormous (twenty-seven-thousand square meters) contemporary art complex designed by late Brit-Iraqi archistar Zaha Hadid. Her final award-winning project topped the other five finalists and was completed in 2010. In May of the same year, the museum officially opened its doors to visitors.

Maxxi, built on and through the site of a former military barracks, Caserma Montello, has been the first museum in Italy to focus its work on the various forms and elements of contemporary creativity and, as you realize once you visit, does a really interesting job in proposing experimental and innovative contents, yet avoid feeling distant or too hard to read and appreciate. The museum, that constantly feels surprising and bright while visiting it, has two main departments: Maxxi Art and Maxxi Architecture. The first one displays more than three-hundred pieces, in various shapes and forms: “classic” paintings, photography, and sculptures are combined with video-audio installations, net-art, and light installations. The result is something that feels fresh and entertaining, where you can find interesting and diverse point of views on current issues and discover distant realities thanks to the international nature of the artists and their works. Maxxi Architecture, the second core component of Maxxi, is the first national museum of architecture in Italy; its collections relating to the 20th and 21st century, show more than fifty-thousand projects, twenty-five-thousand photographs, various sculptures, tempera paintings and many among models, letters and periodicals. 

Photo Credits © Federico Spadoni

The regular entry fee is 12 euros, while the price is reduced to 8 euros for under-30s, groups, and families, and to 4 euros for students over 14. Under 14s enter for free. Once you visit do not be surprised if you end up staying more than you thought; you might stumble upon some events organized by the museum (workshops, screenings, labs, shows) you’d like to be part of or just enjoy as a spectator. I’ve spent a little more than two hours visiting the place and left without having seen all of it. The museum regularly hosts periodic thematic exhibitions too and the one that was on when I was there really caught my interest and I spent a long time in it. I could not complete my visit to Maxxi but I could not risk missing my flight this time around.

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