The Ara Pacis is the first work of architecture built in the historical centre of Rome since the end of Fascism. The museum space was designed by the architectural studio of American architect Richard Meier, the author of some of the most notable museums of the second half of the 20th century. The Ara Pacis represents one of the highest examples of classic art.
The Senate decided to build an altar to Peace dedicated to Augustus, upon its return from Gaul and from Spain where, in the course of three years, he had consolidated the power of Rome and his own power, he had opened new ways and founded colonies. The altar was built along the via Flaminia, at the border with the northernmost part of the Field of Mars, but the alluvial soil of the area and the floods of the Tiber caused the burial of the Ara, of which no memory was left. The rebuilding of the monument was decided in 1937/38 in the bimillenary of Augustus birth. It was given to archaeologist Giuseppe Moretti and was realized in the summer of 1938 inside the pavillion of via di Ripetta, hurriedly built from a project by Ballio Morpurgo.
Due to the location on the banks of the Tiber, the Ara Pacis risked to be destroyed by the inappropriateness of its container that could not protect it from traffic, exhaust fumes, overheating, humidity and greasy and acidic dust that deposited all over its surface. The new complex has been for this reason planned to preserve the monument in accordance with the most up to date conservation criteria.
The Ara Pacis has been restored to the public after a long period of inaccessibility, while vital works were carried out to create conditions suitable for conserving the monument over a long period. The museum modulates around the contrast of light and shade: the first two parts of the building, particularly, are governed by this concept: visitors pass through the access gallery, an area in shadow, to reach the central pavilion which holds the Ara Pacis in full natural light filtered through 500 square metres of crystal panels.
This expanse creates an uninterrupted continuity with the outside world, and also helps to create the silence necessary to enjoy the monument in full. In the tranquillity of the acoustic isolation, it is possible to appreciate the calm rhythms of the decorative motifs; to attend to the procession passing along the sides of the enclosure of the Altar, made up of the massed priests of the Augustan age and of members of the imperial family, guided by Augustus himself; to revisit the founding myths of Rome and the Augustan glory that brought the empire the enjoyment of such contented times that the period came to be called the Age of Gold.
web site: http://www.arapacis.it
The ARA, HOW IT WAS