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English text. Roma, 2003; paperback, pp. 192, ill., cm 15x21. (Arti visive, architettura e urbanistica.). With changing fortunes, marked by historical events and by the evolution of its original inspiring criteria, the complex and, in some ways, troubled history of the Museum of Rome unravelled throughout the twentieth century. On the other hand, all the difficulties and ambiguities which would characterise its journey were already implicit in the ambitious task of wanting to set up a Museum which was able to reconstruct in an exhaustive manner, into a single large fresco, the secular history of Rome, from the city of the popes to the young capital of Italy. In fact, at the time of the inauguration of the Museum of Rome in 1930, Antonio Muñoz, the then Director of Antiquities and Fine Arts of the Governorship of Rome, whilst proudly claiming responsibility for the much awaited implementation and layout of the Museum, felt the need to justify its institution in a city like Rome so richly endowed with Museums which were “already so great and famous and celebrated throughout the world; to which flock pilgrims of the ideal and people from every country; where those masterpieces are housed which all nations envy us”. In harmony with the cultural climate of his time, in which the remembrance of the profound transformation experienced by the city in becoming the capital of Italy was still fresh, he identified the conservation of the memory of the city's life, traditions and image as the justification for the existence of the Museum of Rome. It was intended to be, according to Muñoz, “the urn of sweet nostalgias, the refuge of our dreamy soul, the oasis where we Romans will be able to recreate our spirit, among the beloved small things of the life that once was! ” In effect, this first stage in the Museum's life was entirely addressed at elegising and, at the same time, documenting, in a desire to fix and hand down to the collective imagination of posterity the beauty and the poetry of the Rome which had vanished or which was vanishing in the town-planning and building fervour of the Fascist period. The outbreak of the Second World War forced the closure of the Museum, which at that time was located in the great building on Via dei Cerchi whose façade bore the proud inscription “Palace of the Museums of Rome”. When the Museum was reorganised, after the war, the need was felt to find premises which, in terms both of historical and architectural prestige and of location, would fully correspond with the quality and the importance of the collections and would allow for their more extensive and complete development. Not without a “tough fight”, as Antonio Maria Colini recalls, the Museum of Rome obtained the eighteenth-century Palazzo Braschi, thus being able to reopen to the public in 1952 based on a layout in three large sections, topography, history and customs, which, broadly speaking, complied with the configuration of the 1930s. This was a very successful period for the Museum due the public's goodwill and to the constant and valuable increase of its collections, thanks in part to the generous activity of the “Associazione degli Amici dei Musei” which encouraged important bequests and donations. In fact, by the early 1960s it had already become necessary to proceed with a modification of the exhibition set-up, both due to the need to include the new acquisitions in the original itinerary and due to an alteration in museological sensitivity; the desire to provide documentation was refined with the intention of giving preference at exhibition level to the aesthetic quality of the materials, which were also arranged according to more precise chronological criteria. However, the arrangement arrived at was “an arrangement of convenience, suited to the rooms and to the available material rather than being systematic and rational”, as Carlo Pietrangeli noted. In the subsequent decades, the...
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