Rome Travel Guide

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Open Museum Night...another reason to party

Rome throws a great party, and Saturday, the open night (8 p.m. - 2 a.m.) for museums, was no exception.

We went to 3 of the more than 50 venues... starting when the museums opened (free) at 8 p.m. with a new show opening at the Carlo Bilotti museum in the Villa Borghese (theme of mythology waaay too large to bring comprehension to these works, some of which we appreciated - especially the first room with the theme of larger-than-life-size bodies). Bilotti's motives and means may be suspect, but we love the museum he left to Rome (in a former "orangery" ("aranciera") building on the huge Villa Borghese park grounds), along with his collection of DeChiricos.

Next we hopped over to MACRO, the Commune of Rome's contemporary art gallery, which had been closed for a year, apparently for political reasons (the "right" won the mayoral election a year ago and managed not to have a director of the museum until very recently). The opening itself was great fun--hundreds (thousands?) of people all over the street as well as jamming the courtyard which was pitch black except for the green shafts of light emanating from American Arthur Duff's word installation, "Love Poems" (we liked the atmosphere, but prefer Jenny Holzer when it comes to word/art).

We managed to have some true Roman experiences at MACRO, waiting in a line to see the new wing under construction only to be told one did...or didn't... need a small white piece of paper to enter, then to be told one could... or couldn't... get the piece of paper... then filling out a form (in the dark - did they not think it would get dark?) to get the piece of paper, and then finally escorted into the construction site. We also managed to snag free compari and soda before they all were consumed. The darkened courtyard, the swirling green letters, the red comparis all around, the sound of tinkling glass as the bar tenders threw down every small bottle they emptied... while standing among the hundreds with our own glasses of compari...was an evocative atmosphere--better, in fact, than the art works chosen to be displayed in the regular gallery rooms that evening.

Many private galleries in the area also were open late, and we stopped at one, where we saw paintings ("Frozen Hotspots") by the German Christina Maria Pfeifer (at the gallery Hybrida) - which we liked better than most of the MACRO collection on display down the street.

So pleased were we with the whole open-museum evening that we decided to make a last stop at midnight Castel Sant'Angelo... only to find every opening, as we looked up, filled with people looking out, and the line to get in stretched more than halfway across the bridge of angels...Ah, well, the cityscape and people watching from ground level were grand enough for us.

At 1 a.m. we scootered home across the Gianicolo - which also was as crowded as we've ever seen it... Romans having a grand time, and why not? These open museum nights should happen more often - to get more Romans into their own museums. That's our p.r. advice, in any event. Dianne

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