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A Roman Holiday

A recent trip to Rome this past December proved to be artistically as well as culturally rewarding...in a modern way. Having done little to no prior research we decided to rely on a few noteworthy travel guides.

Strong on the ancient ruins and antiquities of Rome these books did not prepare us for this contemporary aspect of Rome.

One of the most interesting contemporary art galleries to date is the MAXXI, the National Museum of XXI Century Arts. It proclaims itself to be the first Italian national institution devoted to contemporary creativity.

Besides it's exhibitions, workshops, shows etc, it is a laboratory for cultural experimentation and innovations reflecting our time.

The building itself is an exceptional, architectural work of art designed by Zaha Hadid, located in Rome's Flaminio quarter.

We experienced the exhibition of the "Transformers", four artists from around the world illustrating today's world in transformation.

We loved the Korean artist Choi Jeong-Hwa's installation, Hubble Bubble, with his hanging forest consisting of 3,000 green plastic colanders.

green lanterns

The MAXXI is a must see for design buffs. Besides the thought provoking exhibits the interior spaces are as engaging as the building's exterior.

Another must see is the Museo dell'Ara Pacis. This modernist, travertine clad building houses the ancient altar of Pax, the Goddess of Peace, built in 13 BC, in honour of Augustus's military victories. Recovered from a roman flood plain in 1938 it was relocated to the site by Benito Mussolini.

Museo dell'Ara Pacis

The new covered building designed by Richard Meier & Partners stirred a great deal of controversy when it opened in 2006. The lower level houses an exhibit gallery where we saw 170 amazing lithographs by the famous french artist -Toulouse-Lautrec that chronicles Paris society during the Belle Epoque period.

We enjoyed this unique presentation of an ancient antiquity in a contemporary 21st century museum that also showcased the works of a famous 20th century graphic artist.

Another example of this juxtaposition of architecture & art on display was at the Ancient Roman Baths of Diocletian. This imposing structure, built in 306 AD offers an incredible setting for the modernist sculptures of 20th century, British artist & sculptor, Henry Moore.

His monumental, abstract, bronze sculptures presented in this impressive setting made this visit more than worthwhile.

Museo dell'Ara Pacis

While I can recount more examples of the juxtaposition of old architecture & contemporary art in Rome suffice it to say that Rome is an amazing city that truly lives up to it's namesake, The Eternal City, forever changing and unchanging and definitely worth visiting.

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