Calenda proposes one stop museum at Capitoline Museums

Rome mayoral candidate Calenda proposes one-stop Ancient Rome Museum on Capitoline Hill

By Region Central Italy Culture News

Carlo Calenda, one of the main candidates in the race to become Rome’s next mayor, announced a radical idea designed to improve the tourist experience.

Under Calenda’s plan, the city hall offices would be moved from the Campidoglio. Then the vacated Palazzo Senatorio would become part of the adjoining Capitoline Museums complex to form the ‘Museo Unico per la Roma Antica.’

Merging treasures from across Rome

Calenda believes the new space, with merged treasures from other museums in the city, would be an improvement on the current Capitoline Museums.

The Capitoline Museums is one of the oldest public museums in the world, dating back to 1471. Calenda, however, claims it is “not a museum, in the modern sense of the term, but a collection of collections exhibited in a confused and unintelligible way.”

His plan would create a “complete, modern and usable museum itinerary that becomes the natural destination for those who want to learn about Roman history.”

The city of seven museums

Calenda argues that currently, tourists wishing to understand the history of Rome must “visit seven different museums, located kilometres from each other”; under a system that is both “unattractive” and “difficult” for visitors.

“It takes 20 minutes to go from the Capitoline Museums to the National Roman Museum in Palazzo Massimo”, he says. “It would take 47 minutes to go from the Capitoline Museums to the Museum of Roman Civilisation, the only one with educational content, which has been closed for years.”

Calenda also says that “unlike all the other European capitals, Rome does not have a large public museum representative of the city”. He cited Paris, London, Stockholm and Amsterdam as examples.

He asserts that the new complex could become “the largest museum in Rome, surpassing the Vatican Museums and considerably approaching the size of other large international museums such as the Louvre.”

Far from positive reactions

Calenda’s plan is not popular with experts from the world of culture. They accuse him of wanting to “cherry pick” or “loot” treasures from other museums.

Art historian Tomaso Montanari, wrote on Twitter: “He wants to merge museums, erasing history and the first public museum in the world. Like installing glass and a roof on the Colosseum, because it is so old, broken and uncomfortable.”

Flaminia Gennari Santori, director of Palazzo Barberini – one of the museums which would lose art to the new museum – described the proposal as “senseless, so absurd that it’s laughable.”

Art historian Rita Borioni said: “The reason why the Capitoline Museums cannot have the same appeal as the Vatican Museums is not due to its size but rather the fact that it doesn’t have Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, Raphael’s Rooms, the Lacoonte.”

There was one voice calling in Calenda’s favour, that of prominent art critic Vittorio Sgarbi. He described the plan as “excellent”.

However, Calenda does not seem phased, saying he “was expecting the controversy”. He added it is “interesting to hear other points of view”.

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