When in Rome: Centrale Montemartini Museum

Most tourists never make it to this unusual museum. It’s a little off the well-worn tourist track, in the Ostiense neighborhood , a former industrial zone of Rome.  Nevertheless, Centrale Montemartini is easily reached by public transport and definitely worth a visit.

This unlikely satellite of Rome’s Capitoline Museum began its life in June 1912 as a thermoelectric power plant, fueling all of Rome’s electricity needs. Gradually other power plants were built, but this was the only plant not damaged in bombing during World War II and for some time continued as the capital’s only electric power supply. Montemartini fell into disrepair and eventual disuse by the 1970s.

When Rome’s Capitoline Museum began its process of renovation in 1997, it was looking for large exhibition spaces to temporarily house some of its collection of Roman statues and artifacts. It was decided to move some of the pieces to the Centrale Montemartini, where ancient Roman statues graced the backdrop of hulking 20th century power plant equipment. The exhibition was entitled “The machines and the gods” and the combination of classic Roman art and 20th century industrial architecture proved a winning combination with the public.

When the restoration project of the Capitoline Museum was fully completed and the works of art on display were returned to the refurbished museum space, it was decided to maintain the Centrale Montemartini as an annex to the Capitoline Museum. Today, Montemartini houses the newest aquistions of the Capitoline Museum, displayed beautifully in the stark industrial space in this less well known Rome attraction.

On your next trip to Rome, my travel tip would be to visit the Centrale Montemartini to observe this interesting juxtaposition of 2nd and 20th century Roman artistry.

Centrale Montemartini is located on Via Ostiense 106 and is opened Tuesday – Sunday, 9:00 – 19:00. Tickets for adults are 4.40 euro or 8.50 euro  for a combined ticket to Musei Capitolini (Capitoline Museum) and Centrale Montemartini (valid over a 7 day period).

More on European Museums

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