One could literally say “two museums in one”, which is the case for this month’s Museum of the World: MACRO, the museum of contemporary art in Rome has two imposing locations.
When two idle industrial complexes, a brewery and a slaughterhouse, were given to the city, both sites were restored and adapted to host a leading cultural center dedicated to the promotion of contemporary art in Rome.
Very different in character, MACRO in Via Nizza was designed by the French architect Odile Decq, who connected the different spaces with a dynamic series of staircases, passages, galleries and elevators. The original structure is maintained but complemented with architectural elements that enable its new function. This includes the striking auditorium placed in the center of the foyer, a beautiful wooden structure varnished in red, and a glass entrance inserted between the two buildings. This entrance creates a central point from where the visitor is directed to the various venues: Two exhibition spaces, one of which is the largest in Europe, two project rooms, one video tunnel, four artist studios, a library, a mediatheque, a cinema, and two artist residencies are complemented by a cafeteria, restaurant and museum shop to provide an all round cultural offer. Each architectural element has been adapted to host specific artistic interventions, including the large roof terrace and the walls of the adjoining buildings, which are occasionally used for projections or large murals.
The second location, MACRO Testaccio, was obtained during the restoration of the old slaughterhouse in the Testaccio district, a trendy neighborhood now famous for the large number of cultural events aimed mainly at young audiences.
The pavilions of this complex are a perfect example of industrial architecture in transition from classicism to modernity at the end of the 19th century. The restoration has not erased the traces of the site’s original use, and in the large courtyard the tracks and a system of metal hooks used for the transportation of meat still remain, as do the fences which were used to confine the cattle. The various pavilions have been restored into large exhibition spaces dedicated to the promotion of contemporary art, which facilitate intense research activity into artistic practices. Completing this site, is a center of cultural production founded in 2010, offering over 5000 square meters of functional space including a large exhibition room, various multifunctional venues, a theater, a laboratory, and a director’s and recording studio.
With its two locations, MACRO is a catalyst for contemporary culture in the capital.