Friday, 15 May 2009

ROME: Culture & Commerce by Tom Marsh

The story begins with Mario Resca.  The government have formed a new 'super manager' role for him, his task being to create more revenue from Italy's museums.  Vallorizazzione or value-adding is the buzz word.  It is understandable that there is plenty of controversy surrounding this appointment.  Can the culture and heritage of Italy survive the inevitable influence of modern commercial business?
The brief aims to test this idea by proposing a sort of 'McMuseum' that merges exhibition space with retail space that efficiently extracts money from tourists.  It will house two exhibitions; a temporary show of original pieces that are to be loaned abroad and a more permanent collection of plaster casts from these pieces.  This duality questions whether culture can coexist with capitalism.  By adding 'value' to the museum, is the de-valuation of culture inevitable?
The idea of consumption is key to this project.  The building will be sited opposite the Pantheon in central Rome and the architecture will literally consume its surroundings for added attraction.  It is impossible to compete with the ancient wonder of the Pantheon in a contemporary building, however it is possible to offer alternative and enhanced experiences of it from within this building.

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