Saturday, April 22, 2006

Ara Pacis 2 - Why?

Ara Pacis-Before and after. Click to see larger.The previous Ara Pacis museum and the new one inaugurated yesterday. (Photo from La Repubblica, where it seems to be no longer available.)

When I saw the photo of the previous museum, constructed in 1938 by Enrico Morpurgo, I did wonder what great benefit the new structure brought to justify the expense of money and polemical energy. Structurally, we now have the same box shape with the same unvarying straight lines. The biggest difference seemed the lack of classical references in the cornice.

However, after a long hunt and having forded my way through much intemperate speech, I eventually found an explanation for the demolition of the old structure. Evidently, the interior was subject to huge variations in temperature and humidity. In addition, it afforded no protection from the biggest threat of all: the corrosive gases belched out by the traffic that streams past on three sides. The Meier building is supposed to resolve these problems.

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