MAXXI: Art and contemporary architecture in a multifunctional space open to all

One of the most discussed works of the last 30 years in Rome, has become at the same time an indelible sign of modernity that advances inexorably. Innovation and experimentation alongside the millenary tradition of the history of the capital. MAXXI is not only a museum of contemporary art but represents a cultural challenge, a difficult step made to not remain imprisoned in the eternity of the unmoved beauty of ancient history.

Today this work so discussed and surrounded by a thousand controversies is starting to become an important point of reference for the city, loved by tourists and finally accepted also by the Romans. The National Museum of the 21st century Arts has shocked the classicity of Rome, especially for the courageous architectural project of Zaha Hadid, the world-famous Iraqi architect and designer, who was sadly deceased in the past year to only 66 years. For this too, MAXXI has become an icon, a bequest that the great Architect has donated to the Eternal City daring right there where no one had attempted before, in the heart of the world capital of ancient art. This work is not only a museum of contemporary art, but a real multi-purpose centre open to experimentation and collective participation. But its creation was not simple, so much so that everything began even in the distant 1990s.

The troubled construction of MAXXI
The history of the construction of the MAXXI began in 1998, when the Superintendence of special Contemporary Art and the Ministry of Cultural Heritage give life to the invitation to tender for the presentation of the projects. After almost a year of work, studies and controversy, the daring and innovative proposal of Zaha Hadid won the contract for the transformation of the area of the former barracks Montello, in the district Flaminio. The winning idea of the architect is to create a multifunctional center, where the spaces will intersect one with the other, eliminating the hierarchies and creating a mixture of styles and sensations.

Next to the museum's project, Hadid is flanked by experimental research laboratories and a series of spaces dedicated to events, social gatherings, reception and also to the conduct of commercial activities. All fully integrated into the urban structures of the area, which become an integral part of the work creating a space with uncertain boundaries. Zaha Hadid's architectural project arouses controversy, debates, sometimes turmoil and disbelief. The shapes are innovative, with a strong plastic charge, almost seem to not give support to the structure that appears as suspended in the void, floating in space. Moreover, it should not be forgotten that at the same time at MAXXI, Rome witnessed another project that helped to assemble the controversy around the new museum, the structure of the Ara Pacis by Richard Meier. It almost seemed that modernity wanted to erase the story, an attack to which the defenders of the Classicism responded vigorously, even though they eventually had to surrender to the popular will and the validity of the two works.

The MAXXI structure, a meeting of shapes and colours
With the inauguration of MAXXI in 2010, the Romans and tourists can finally begin to live this new reality, which in a short time took on international prominence and prestige. The structure was made with a combination of cement, steel and glass, in shades of white and black, embraced by the severe tones of grey. Inside there are three different levels that seem to confuse one with the other to impress visitors. It is all wanted, like the forced control of light that is literally used as a weapon, to give life to spaces and works, a hidden actor who tacitly observes the passage of time. The impact inside the MAXXI is very strong, the dominant white color relaxes and psychologically prepares the visitors to the total enjoyment of the works, offering a feeling of safety and loss mixed with one another.

MAXXI's cultural offer
The MAXXI offers to Rome and to the whole world both permanent and temporary exhibitions, able to maintain that fluidity desired by its architect. Today, inside the museum, there are collections of architecture and contemporary art, to sanction the difficulty in modern times of dividing one from the other. You can find works that represent the evolution of the fundamental concepts of architecture throughout its history, with a close look from the creative conception to the realization of the work.

The collections include more than 60,000 projects and over 75,000 elements including photographs, prints, models, sculptures, articles and letters. They belong to large names of the sector such as Alessandro Anselmi, Paolo Soleri, Carlo Scarpa, Enrico del Debbio and Vittorio de Feo just to name a few. Among the photographs of the artist are the artistic shots of Guido Guidi, Letizia Battaglia, Olivo Barbieri, Armin Linke, John Davies, Massimo Vitali and many others.

The MAXXI art Collections count more than 400 works by great artists, an accurate selection of contemporary masterpieces in constant evolution. Among the great names are characters such as Francesco Clemente, William Kentridge, Mario Merz, Gerhard Richter and Alighiero Boetti. In addition, MAXXI is part of the Google Art Project project in partnership with the Google Cultural Institute Foundation, where thanks to a digital platform and 3d technology it is possible to discover the details of the great works. For example, you can immerse yourself in the plots of the famous map of Alighiero Boetti, swimming among the hundreds of shades of the canvases of his universe. Another permanent collection relates to the new "the place to be", an exhibition that starts from the installations of the outdoor area and then continues on the ground floor in Gallery 1. It is about 60 works between contemporary art, architecture and photography with names of the caliber of Renzo Piano, Paolo Portuguese, Rossella Biscotti and Micol Assael.

Temporary events and exhibitions: Art in Motion
Around the central core of MAXXI, in the splendid setting of the Flaminio district in Rome, they revolve a series of events, initiatives and temporary exhibitions. This is a fundamental aspect for the museum pole, in fact all these activities guarantee fluidity and movement to the art and the museum itself, pursuing the initial idea of Zaha Hadid to cull the cultural boundaries. Not enough are the liquid spaces, the braided colours and the light that continuously transforms the environments, serve the stimuli of artists and other arts to continue to mix all these elements without stopping. For this, the MAXXI never rests and continues to propose perceptive experiences, such as the jazz shows in the square outside with great names of the Conservatory of Santa Cecilia, the storytelling and visions of short films and documentaries, the guided tours to private collections and exhibitions.

But also the craftsmanship and quality of the artisans of Made in Italy that create art in movement, like the tailors of the big fashion houses that expose their works as artistic performances. There are also exhibitions of international interpreters, such as the development of the concept of the Japanese House, which, through the work of Archistar as Kenzo Tange and Shigeru Ban, show the evolution of Japan's culture. But also the deliberately out of measure sculptures of Huang Yong Ping, one of the major representatives of the Chinese vanguard.

Welcome and education to art
A great peculiarity of MAXXI is that it manages to make all this accessible to anyone. It seems that the real task of the Museum of Contemporary Art and architecture is precisely to enter into the lives of people whoever they are, children, elders, tourists, Romans, handicapped persons and disabilities, refugees. MAXXI does not create artistic or social barriers, welcoming everyone with open arms, without distinction. In fact, to those who need the staff of the museum is able to devote particular attention, with educational and playful activities, special learning pathways, narrative experiences. Art is not an end in itself but it needs the perceptive involvement of all, to be that social and moral guide that helps to know oneself, to learn to live in a conscious and tolerant manner.

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