Clash of the contemporary art titans in Rome

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As MAXXI, the 21st century art center designed by Zaha Hadid, opens to the Roman public on May 30, MACRO, Rome’s contemporary art center, announces special preview days during the same weekend to visit its new wing designed by Odile Decq. Contemporary artists and architects have never been as trendy in ancient Rome.

On the one hand, MAXXI (Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo), designed by London-based Pritzker-prize-winning achitect Zaha Hadid, received rave reviews from many critics for bringing fresh shapes to the Eternal City. The museum will have two main focuses when it opens on May 30: 19th to 21st century architecture and contemporary art. It will host architectural archives of Italians such as Carlo Scarpa as well as contemporary art by Gerhard Richter or Anish Kapoor, among others.

On the other hand, MACRO (Museo d'Arte Contemporanea di Roma), opened in 2002 but a monumental extension by French architect Odile Decq (Venice Biennale laureate) will officially host visitors in Autumn 2010, while previews will be organized between May 27 and 29. MACRO mostly focuses on young Italian and international artists, for instance, on June 1, a new cycle of artists will comprise American artist Jacob Hashimoto, or Portuguese João Louro, among others.

Both museums are publicly owned, however, MACRO belongs to the city of Rome, while MAXXI depends on the Ministry of National Heritage and Culture. They differ in size, with MACRO being much smaller than MAXXI, however, a MACRO spokesperson contacted by Relaxnews considers that the smaller size of MACRO allows more flexibility in organizing exhibitions. Moreover, MACRO's spokesperson doesn't fear that MAXXI will overshadow their institution; on the contrary, they're using the opening of Zaha Hadid building's as an opportunity to launch previews in their newly built wing.

"Since the beginning we created a huge synergy between MACRO and MAXXI. Both institutions are happy to provide to the citizens and the guests in Rome this unique opportunity that few cities around the world have: offer the chance to take a tour between the Colosseum, the Imperial Forums and at same time offer this huge choice of contemporary art in town." MACRO's spokespeople seem to have buried the hatchet with MAXXI and are greeting the arrival of this new giant in town with Italian flair.

MAXXI Museum: Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo
Public opening: May 30, previews May 29
Location: North of Piazza del Popolo, Northern part of town

MACRO Museum: Museo d'Arte Contemporanea di Roma
New wing opening in Autumn 2010, previews May 27-29
Location: near Villa Borghese

Other MACRO institutions are located in the southern part of the city, MACRO Testaccio composed of MACRO Future and La Pelanda in the Ex-Mattatoio area (the former slaughterhouse of Rome) in the Testaccio neighbourhood.