An itinerary meant to discover Italian architecture in the capital during the fascist period
The great collonade (by Blackcat, CC BY-SA 3.0 Wikimedia Commons)
One of the most iconic buildings in the entire EUR project is the one dedicated to housing the Museum of Roman Civilization, a name still remembered by the large inscription on the colonnade. The exhibition site was conceived as a natural continuation of the Augustan Exhibition of Romanity that had been held in 1937 on the occasion of the celebration of the bimillennium of Augustus’ birth. The works from the exhibition, in fact, would remain on permanent display in the museum after the World’s Fair was over. To date, the museum houses vibrant collections of statues, bas-reliefs, models and models (which in some cases go as far as 1:1 life-size reproductions) on Roman civilisation’s history, art, customs and traditions. Among the most interesting are certainly the casts of Trajan’s Column and the large 1:250 scale model of Imperial Rome, created by architect and archaeologist Italo Gismondi.
As far as the architectural features of the museum are concerned the entire structure articulates into two large opposing side bodies connected by a third body, consisting of a scenographic raised colonnade reached by a wide staircase. A very striking feature of the structure is the extreme simplicity of the volumes and the total absence of windows in the exterior elevations: light to illuminate the rooms comes from skylight ceilings, and the only windows open onto interior courtyards. This design was intended to prevent visitors from making visual contact with the outside world, thus helping them immerse themselves emotionally in the past. The great monumentality of the buildings of the fascist period can be observed both from the outside, thanks to the considerable size of the entire museum, and from the inside, which features rooms with very high ceilings and geometrically very simple volumes. The result is an architectural layout that is highly scenic but also functional for displaying the large-scale materials in the collection.