The Museum of the Altar of Peace is the first architectural work to have been built in the historic centre of Rome from the fall of Fascism until the present day. The project was carried out by Richard Meier and Partners Architects, who have designed several of the most noteworthy museums of the second half of the twentieth century.
The Altar of Peace is one of the finest examples of classical art. The Roman Senate voted for its construction in 13 B.C., to honour Augustus' return from the Provinces of France and Spain, where the emperor had been for the previous three years, consolidating both his own personal power and that of Rome, creating new roads and founding colonies. The altar was built next to the Via Flaminia, at the northernmost edge of the Field of Mars, but the alluvial nature of the ground and the repeated flooding of the Tiber, leaving layers of lime across the area, meant that the Altar was soon buried, and its memory lost completely. The bimillenium of Augustus? birth fell in 1937/8 and the decision was taken to rehabilitate the monument.
The project was entrusted to the archaeologist Giuseppe Moretti, and was achieved in the summer of 1938, inside a pavilion on the Via di Ripetta, built in great haste and based on a design by the architect Ballio Morpurgo.
The combination of its position on the Lungotevere and the inadequacy of the building it was housed in put the Altar of Peace at risk: it could not be protected from damage from traffic, exhaust gases, overheating, rising humidity and, finally, the oily and acidic dust which was being deposited on the marble and plaster surfaces.
The new museum complex has therefore been designed with a view to the monument?s conservation as well as to the atmosphere it creates. It also includes an anti-earthquake system.
Museo dell'Ara Pacis
Lungotevere in Augusta - 00100 Roma
Tuesday-Sunday 9.00am-7.00pm; 24th and 31st December 9.00am-2.00pm (the ticket office closes an hour in advance)
Monday, 1st January, 1st May and 25th December