An exhibition in Rome to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of Rome as capital city

An exhibition tracing the history of Rome's capital, one hundred and fifty years after its proclamation, has opened at the Museum of Rome in Palazzo Braschi.

In Rome, the Museo di Roma in Palazzo Braschi is hosting until September 26 the exhibition Roma. Birth of a Capital 1870-1915, which is part of the initiatives celebrating the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the proclamation of Roma Capitale organized by the Capitoline Superintendency.

The exhibition, curated by Federica Pirani, Gloria Raimondi and Flavia Pesci, with scientific advice from Prof. Vittorio Vidotto and the technical-scientific collaboration of the Department of Architecture and the Department of Education Sciences of the University of Roma Tre, thePrimoli Foundation Archives, the Istituto Luce-Cinecittà, the Fondazione Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia, the Jewish Museum of Rome, the Museo Nazionale Collezione Salce in Treviso, the Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna and theAccademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, intends to present, along with the major events that marked the history of the new capital from 1870 until the years of World War I, also the profound physical transformations of the body of the city, in its streets, squares, villas and its social components.

In the exhibition itinerary carried out over a time span from the Breach of Porta Pia to World War I, three main thematic nuclei are developed, told through emblematic episodes that illustrate, along with historical events, the urban transformations and new architecture of the new Capital, in dialogue with socio-cultural changes.

In the narrative, the approximately 600 works including paintings, sculptures, drawings, graphics, photographs and documentary material from public and private collections are placed in continuous dialogue with evocative images from original films depicting Rome in the transition between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and, at the close of the itinerary, at the time of the celebrations for the end of World War I. A constant and significant presence along the route is represented by the extraordinarily high-quality photographic images taken by Count Giuseppe Primoli between 1888 and 1903, which combine almost an ante-litteram reportage character with documentary value. Didactic apparatuses, immersive installations, multimedia and video supports, sometimes accompanied by quotations from Italian and foreign writers, illustrate the many aspects related to politics, art, commerce, nascent industries, tourism, sports, social and social life that constituted the scaffolding on which to build the image of a city turned to modernity.

Michele Cammarano ’s large painting of the Breach of Porta Pia (pictured), which for its symbolic value opens the exhibition itinerary, is counterpointed by frames from Filoteo Alberini’s film La presa di Roma (1905), a historical document first presented on the walls of Porta Pia that year and later replayed on all anniversaries of the event. The importance of the event and the fortune of its iconography will be represented by paintings(Bartolena, Ademollo, Tranzi) and original photographs reconstructing the event. Portraits in painting and sculpture of the protagonists(Cavour, Garibaldi, Mazzini, Vittorio Emanuele) are alternated with numerous paintings and documents celebrating the Plebiscite, both official and popular (Luigi Riva, Plebiscito a Roma, Vincenzo Giovannini, Il tricolore agli Orti Farnesiani), which highlight the resonance of the event in Rome and the Kingdom.

Through planimetric representations of the urban area and the salubrity of the air, the dramatic relationship of the new capital with the scourge of poverty and malaria is also recounted. Federico Zandomeneghi’s large painting, The Poor on the Steps of the Church of San Gregorio al Celio, testifies to the state of destitution and suffering of a large part of the population. Significant space is also devoted to illustrating the close relationship between Rome and the Tiber. The river, a communication route and a place of trade and leisure, is also experienced by the inhabitants as a constant danger related to the very frequent and destructive floods. The exhibits (model of the Port of Ripetta, paintings, photographs and plans) testify to the ambivalence and coexistence between the two aspects.

The visitor then traces the urban transformations of the Capital through the display of models, architectural plans and decorative sketches of the most significant buildings constructed in those years with a wealth of archival documentation on the history of the demolitions (opening of the major thoroughfares of Via Nazionale and Corso Vittorio Emanuele) and the construction of the most representative and emblematic monuments of the Risorgimento epic(Palazzo del Parlamento, Palazzo di Giustizia, Vittoriano).

Accompanied by phrases from writers and intellectuals who reflected on the events related to the destruction/construction of the city(Gabriele D’Annunzio, Ermanno Grimm, Émile Zola), these major changes also show the feverish activity of the building sites, which will also open the gaze to new social and political issues, from the working-class and proletarian presence to the birth of socialism.

The subject of specific focuses are the birth of new neighborhoods and the transformation of the Ghetto, with the realization of the new Synagogue represented by the wooden model of the Major Temple and the preparatory sketches for its decoration, from the Jewish Museum of Rome, which, this fall, will in turn inaugurate an exhibition dedicated to the celebrations of Rome’s capital city entitled 1848-1871. The Jews of Rome between Segregation and Emancipation.

The Museum’s large hall is also dedicated to an ideal walk through Rome, in which numerous posters from the important Salce Collection in Treviso are offered, as well as an exhibition within the exhibition, consisting of some 70 almost unpublished images, dedicated to the photographic activity of Count Giuseppe Primoli and produced in collaboration with the Primoli Foundation.

With the election of Ernesto Nathan as Mayor of Rome there is an unprecedented modernization of the Capital (spread of education, public health, urban planning, infrastructure, transportation, lighting). These years also saw the development of important projects related to schools (schools in the city, schools in theAgro Romano, and the opening of Maria Montessori’s “Children’s Homes”) and the promotion of Rome’s international image with the great exhibition of the fiftieth anniversary of theUnification of Italy in 1911.

The exhibition concludes with a room devoted to the outbreak of war, which, with its enormous political and social upheavals, would mark a crucial watershed in the history of the 20th century. A room with an “immersive” effect is reserved for the projection of some fragments from the film Gloria with images of the conflict and some photographs of interventionist demonstrations (accompanied by an actor’s reading of Gabriele D’Annunzio’s words in favor of entering the war). Some interventionist paintings by Giacomo Balla conclude the exhibition, while Edoardo Gioja ’s The Last Vigil symbolically represents the end of the conflict with effective synthesis.

The exhibition is accompanied by a very thorough educational apparatus and a catalog produced by De Luca Editori d’Arte that features numerous contributions from historians, archaeologists, architects, and art and entertainment historians. The catalog is edited by Federica Pirani, Gloria Raimondi and Flavia Pesci.

For all information you can visit the official website of the Museum of Rome.

An exhibition in Rome to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of Rome as capital city
An exhibition in Rome to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of Rome as capital city

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