The city known for its ancient monuments and baroque churches finally has two new contemporary art galleries worthy of the name, both designed by foreign women.
The MAXXI gallery in Rome will open its futuristic doors to the public Sunday. The Museum of Art for the XXIst century is one of a few ultra-modern buildings to find a place in Rome, where modern architecture has often been met with resentment. The three-day inauguration festivities began on Thursday with the presentation of the gallery to crowds of enthusiastic journalists and critics.
The new structure designed by the Anglo-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid juts out dramatically from the side of a former military barracks in a residential neighborhood outside the city center. Hadid was the first woman to be awarded the Pritzker Prize for Architecture in 2004.
The three-story cement and glass building features a dramatic, light-filled open atrium with rounded cement walls from which intersecting curved black staircases with white neon panels depart for the upper galleries. The red tubes of sculptor Maurizio Mocchetti crisscross the space, projecting red dots on the gray walls.
Ten years in the making, at a cost of $223 million, MAXXI is Italy's first national public center for contemporary art. It houses two museums -– MAXXI Art and MAXXI architecture -- and includes an auditorium, a media library specializing in art and architecture, a bookshop, cafeteria, bar-restaurant and outdoor spaces for the exhibition of sculpture occupied at the moment by an enormous 80-foot human skeleton, part of a retrospective on Italian artist Gino De Dominicis.
MAXXI opens to the public Sunday. It is located on Via Guido Reni 4a. Opening hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (10:00 pm Thursdays).
The new wing of the city of Rome's MACRO gallery was also presented in a special preview this week, although the gallery will not open to the public until later this year. A former Peroni brewery just outside downtown Rome was redeveloped"and expanded into a new exhibition space by French architect Odile Decq.
Aside from 48,000 square feet of new exhibition space, the museum will also have a 180-car parking lot, something rare for congested Rome. Exhibitions at the MACRO preview Saturday and Sunday and include local artist Mario Schifano's masterpiece, La Chimera, and a site-specific installation in the entrance by Jacob Hashimoto, a cloud of 7,000 small fluttering diaphanous kites.
You can book your preview of MACRO HERE. Opening hours: Saturday, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m; Sunday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.