Museums in Rome Open Again as Restrictions Ease

Just in time for International Museum Day, a series of major attractions around the Italian capital are coming back on stream.

The exterior of MAXXI, a contemporary art museum designed by Zaha Hadid. (Photo: Iwan Baan)

After being shut for two months due to the Covid-19 pandemic, museums, galleries, and archaeological sites in and around Rome are gradually reopening to the public.

Today, the national museum of modern art, La Galleria Nazionale, will debut the new exhibition “A Distanza Ravvicinata” (literally “At Close Range”) in its central hall. Its director Cristiana Collu said in a statement, “opening the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea on the first day possible was the appointment we could not miss, for that is what it means to be contemporary, to be women and men of our time.”

Three more major public institutions will start welcoming visitors tomorrow, including the Capitoline Museums, which houses a priceless collection of ancient Roman statues, frescoes, and medieval and Renaissance art. Also reopening on May 19 are the Zaha Hadid–designed MAXXI, Italy’s national institute dedicated to 21st-century art, and Galleria Borghese, a converted 17th-century villa famed for its wide-ranging collection of treasured works including paintings by Titian, Raphael, and Caravaggio, and sculptures from the likes of Bernini and Canova. MAXXI will debut a new showcase on May 22 titled “Gio Ponti: Loving Architecture,” a retrospective on the visionary Italian architect and industrial designer who created more than 100 buildings in Italy and abroad over his six-decade career.

Meanwhile, the Vatican City has not yet announced a definite reopening date for the Vatican Museums, though health and safety preparations are currently in progress. These include installing thermo-scanners to check body temperatures and implementing a reservations-only system, ensuring that the number of visitors are staggered throughout the day.

Besides Italy and the Vatican, another country easing restrictions on cultural venues this week is Belgium, where the Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp and Brussels’ Old Masters Museum will throw open their doors on May 19. The latter is known for its canvases by 15th- to 18th-century Dutch and Flemish painters such as Rubens, Rembrandt, and Pieter Bruegel the Elder.

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