A Tourist in Rome - Central Montemartini Museum
|Location::||About 10- or 15-minutes walk south on Via Ostiense from the Piramide metro stop|
|Time::||about 90 minutes|
|Hours::||Tuesday - Sunday, 9 AM to 7 PM|
The Central Montemartini Museum holds overflow sculptures and mosaics from the Capitoline Museum in a unique and fascinating setting. The Giovanni Montemartini Thermoelectric Centre, built in 1912 to supply electric power to Rome was decommissioned in the 1960s. In 1997 many sculptures were moved here from the Capitoline Museum during its renovation, with the intent that this would be a temporary exhibit hall. But in 2005 when part of the collection was moved back to the Capitoline Museum, it was decided to make this a permanent museum. The awesome part of this museum is that the electrical generation machinery has not been moved out, so the ancient sculptures are viewed against a backdrop of early- to mid-1900s machinery. The museum not only displays art, it is art. This alone makes a visit to the museum worth the trip, if you have the time, and it's just a bonus that many of the works are really worthwhile in and of themselves. The overflow from the Capitoline Museum is good enough to make a great museum. And the are no crowds. Another cool aspect of this melding of the ancient sculptures and the historical machinery is that many of the ancient sculptures on display were discovered during the period when the machinery was active, from 1900 to 1930, as part of the intense archaelogical activity spurred by Mussolini. So although this museum is obviously not one of the top priority sights if you have only a few days in Rome, if you are in Rome for a longer period of time, or make a second visit to Rome, or have been unlucky enough to have so many rainy days that you're running short of indoor sights, this museum is something to seriously consider.
The mosaic in the 2nd photo below was found while building the underpass under the railroad tracks behind Santa Bibiana (several blocks east of the south side of Termini). It dates to the 4th century AD and once decorated the opulent Horti Licinii, a sprawling villa and garden complex which had belonged to the family of the 3rd century emperor Gallienus.