Have you noticed all the buzz around the hashtag #MuseumWeek?
It was a thermoelectric power station with two different production systems (diesel engines and steam turbines) working to transform mechanical energy into electric power.
The plant was really innovative and up-to-date for its time; it could work at full capacity and it provided the town with electricity even during the war, as it was the only facility to be spared from bombs.
This very common destiny for all the factories in this area brought to the transformation of the former industrial district of Rome into a rusty area full of modern ruins fading away: while some of them were demolished, several others have been reconverted, as in the case of the Giovanni Montemartini thermoelectric power plant.
Following the example of other European countries about the conservation of the industrial heritage, ACEA (Rome’s Council-owned Utility) wanted to restore the structure of Rome’s first public power plant and turn it into a “museum of energy and water”.
This especially striking combination started as a fortuitous coincidence, as in 1995 several areas of the Capotoline Museums were closed to the public to be renovated and all their collections of Roman statues and ancient mosaics dating from Republican Era to the late Imperial Age were moved to the former thermoelectric power plant.
The juxtaposition between the classical marble statues and the industrial location was so successful that in 2005, when the renovation works at the Capitoline Museums ended, many sculptures were left inside the former power plant.
The exhibition, entitled “the machines and the Gods”, brings together two opposed sides of Rome’s archaeological heritage: classical and industrial.
The set-up of this classical art exhibition inside a former industrial complex, an operation unprecedented in Rome, marked a crucial transition for the Ostiense district, which is now becoming an area dedicated to culture and nightlife (and a lot of street art too, as seen here and here).
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