Museum of the Ara Pacis

Museum of the Ara Pacis
Museo dell'Ara Pacis
Location within Rome
Established 2006
Location Lungotevere in Augusta (corner of Via Tomacelli) – 00100 Rome, Italy
Coordinates 41°54′48″N 12°30′11″E / 41.913264°N 12.503081°E / 41.913264; 12.503081
Director Claudio Parisi Presicce
Architect Richard Meier

The Museum of the Ara Pacis (Italian: Museo dell'Ara Pacis) belongs to the Sistema dei Musei in Comune of Rome (Italy); it houses the Ara Pacis of Augustus, an ancient monument that was initially inaugurated on January 30, 9 B.C.


The portraits of the Julio-Claudian dynasty placed close to the entry
The Ara Pacis inside the Museum
The fascist-era copy of the Res Gestae Divi Augusti, placed on the back of the Museum

Designed by the American architect Richard Meier and built in steel, travertine, glass and plaster, the museum is the first great architectural and urban intervention in the historic centre of Rome since the Fascist era.[1] It is a structure with a triumphal nature, clearly alluding to the style of imperial Rome. Wide glazed surfaces allow the viewer to admire the Ara Pacis with uniform lighting conditions.[2]

The white colour is the trademark of Richard Meier, while the travertine plates decorating part of the building are a consequence of in-progress changes (aluminum surfaces were initially planned), after a design review following controversies with some nostalgia for the previous pavilion that was built in 1938 by the architect Vittorio Ballio Morpurgo.

The challenging design of Meier wants to assert itself in the very hearth of the town, becoming a nerve and transit centre. The complex was intended to include a crosswalk with an underpass linking the museum to the Tiber river; presently the underpass design seems to have been abandoned completely.[3]


The building, designed by architect Richard Meier, was inaugurated and opened to the public after seven years of works, on April 21, 2006 (the anniversary of the traditional date of the foundation of Rome).[4]

On the night between May 31 and June 1, 2009, unknown men stained the white outer wall with green and red paint and placed a toilet bowl at the feet of the wall.[5]

On December 12, 2009, a group of activists of Earth First!, during the Copenhagen Summit, colored the water of the fountain green and affixed on the side facing Via Tomacelli a banner saying "Earth First! Act Now". The officers and the employees of the museum intervened immediately removing the banner and emptying the fountain.


The building has collected conflicting viewpoints.[6] The New York Times judged it openly a flop, while the famous art critic and polemicist Vittorio Sgarbi defined it "a Texas gas station in the very earth of one of the most important urban centres in the world", as well as the first step towards an "internationalisation" of the city of Rome. Nonetheless, the ruling was not unanimous at all[7] and, for instance, Achille Bonito Oliva praised Meier's design.[8]

In November 2013 a leaky roof led to unwanted water in the new museum building during heavy rain. Staff members had to use buckets to remove water from the top of the altar.[9]

During one of his first declarations after being elected Mayor of Rome (April 2008), Gianni Alemanno announced his purpose to remove Meier's case, that the Roman right wing always disapproved. However, Alemanno himself later pointed out that the removal was not a priority of his administration.[10]


  1. "Ara Pacis Museum / Richard Meier & Partners" Arch Daily
  2. "The Meier project" Museo dell'Ara Pacis
  3. Non si abbatterà il muretto dell'Ara Pacis arriva lo stop della soprintendenza Lilli Garrone on the Corriere della Sera
  4. NICOLAI OUROUSSOFF "ARCHITECTURE REVIEW | ARA PACIS MUSEUM An Oracle of Modernism in Ancient Rome" The New York Times September 25, 2006
  5. Dave Itzkoff. "Vandals Attack Museum in Center of Rome" New York Times June 1, 2009
  6. Maria José Strazzulla. 2009. "War and Peace: Housing the Ara Pacis in the Eternal City." American Journal of Archaeology 113.2 (open access)
  7. Giannino Cusano. "Il progetto di Richard Meier per l'Ara Pacis a Roma: perché si!".
  8. Interview granted to TG3 the day after the declarations of the Mayor Gianni Alemanno.
  10. Non si abbatterà il muretto dell'Ara Pacis arriva lo stop della soprintendenza Lilli Garrone on Corriere della Sera


External links

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