Notes on the Ara Pacis

Came across and interesting blog post about the Ara Pacis Museum:

"The contemporary fetishization of this moment in history comes from a desire to remember Rome's one-time value and, in turn, anticipate the return of this value. The construction of this new museum is a direct act of myth-making. This agenda is clearly mapped out in the ichnography of the building. The fear of fire, or at least the institutionalized residue of a fear of fire, presumably truly felt by someone at some time but we don't know who, introduces a second logic with a second ichnography. This system is laid out over the first system, using the architecture as its starting point. In this interplay between the two logics, two hands are obviously at play with two different agendas."

Don't know if I agree with the premise - but I will be sure to take note of the fire extinguishers on my next visit.

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Mussolini constructed the Ara Pacis in 1937 to coincide with the two-thousandth anniversary of the birth of Augustus. Mussolini's agenda was to use the Altar of Peace as a memorial to the Lateran Accords he signed with Pope Pius X1 in 1929. The Ara Pacis was symbolically housed in a plain glass structure representing the themes of the Lateren Accords - light, clarity, openness and transparency - and a plaque dedicated it to the Pope as a Prince of Peace who "restored Italy to God, and God to Italy". It was criticised by Fascists who wanted it to be the centre piece of the Mostra Augustea della Romanita exhibition. They argued "the Duce yields to much to the Pope". Today's building yields only to bland modernity. It is a soul-less structure that could easily pass itself off as a synagogue or a masonic lodge. It should be demolished.

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