Centrale Montemartini: the Machines and the Gods
Montemartini was the oldest power plant in the city. It was opened in 1912 and closed in the late sixties. Today it is an extraordinary example of the conversion of an industrial archaeology building into a museum.
The Centrale Montemartini houses about 400 Roman statues, already on display in the Capitoline Museums or recovered from the very rich municipal deposits, together with epigraphs and mosaics, in an evocative setting of industrial archaeology.
A game of contrasts between “the machines and the gods”, as the title of the first exhibition hosted in October 1997.
Most of the finds are made up of pieces from excavations carried out after the Unification of Italy (1861) , in particular excavations relating to the ancient Roman horti.
The exhibition layout highlights the area where the finds were found and is divided into three main themes:
1) Republican Rome (the religious and funerary sphere, the introduction of luxury into the private sphere, portraiture), in the “Sala Colonne”;
2) the monumental centre of Rome (area of the Flaminio circus, temple of Apollo Sosiano, Campidoglio, sacred area of Largo Argentina, theatre of Pompeo), in the “sala Macchine”;
3) the gardens, imperial residences and domus (horti dell’Esquilino, horti Sallustiani, horti Spei Veteris at Porta Maggiore, Santa Bibiana mosaic), in the “Sala Caldaie”.
The installation is characterized by the interweaving of images of classical archaeology and images of industrial archaeology, with the machines of the power station that form the background of the sculptures (or vice versa, according to the observation points inside the room).
The presence of the two gigantic and by now silent Diesel engines of the power station is very suggestive.
Centrale Montemartini Museum is in southern Rome, between Piramide and the basilica of San Paolo Fuori le Mura, close to the “Garbatella” Metro station.