In May of 2010, the Maxxi National Museum of XXI Century Arts opened its doors to the public for the first time. Designed by legendary contemporary architect Zaha Hadid, the project took seven years to complete and Maxxi is definitely one of the most ambitious new projects in Rome. That was the planners' hope from the very beginning - producing an effect similar to that of the Bilbao Guggenheim in the Eternal City. The museum is in the Flaminio District, in the area of the former Montello barracks. Its meandering glass and concrete call to mind a massive futuristic snake that has descended in the middle of nowhere and is ready to devour anybody who draws near. If you get there on a sunny day, the effect is even more alarming - in the glass "eye," nearby buildings are reflected. One thing can't be denied - the museum is exceedingly photogenic. If it looks a bit too robust in reality, it "takes" a good picture, looking like some creature from another planet that has dressed up for a ball. The total area of the museum is 27,000 square metres, and it holds both Maxxi Art and Maxxi Architecture, not to mention spaces for special exhibitions, conference halls, a bookshop, a cafe, etc. No less intriguing than the current exhibitions is the bizarre sort of performance art or reality show produced by visitors to the museum wandering along the endless zigzags and corners of the vast museum. In places the passages lead nowhere, and people seem to enjoy the strangeness like they do a spooky film. Grand black staircases lead up to the exhibition spaces. The design rather reminds of a designer hotel, and at times one gets the feeling that the architecture is perhaps vampiric in its self-sufficiency, sucking the life out of the works displayed. At other points, though, it allows the works to be foregrounded. In some sense Maxxi is a duel of ambitions, and only time will tell what will swallow which - the architecture the art, or the art the architecture. Ever since it opened, the museum has provoked fervent debate, causing flaps among both art critics and critics of architecture. In its first year, however, the number of visitors already exceeded expectations, drawing an average of 1,200 visitors a day; a ticket costs 11 euro.
Via Guido Reni 4a
Keywords: Rome, museum