Colosseum to open on Museums Night

Monument open to limited numbers

The Colosseum will be open for the Night of Museums on Saturday 17 May but only to a limited number of visitors, following a last-minute agreement between Rome culture authorities and the trade union representing Colosseum employees.

A staff shortage on the night had risked Italy's most visited monument from participating in the Notte dei Musei initiative, leading to a storm of criticism, not least of all from the city's mayor Ignazio Marino who described the threatened closure as "embarrassing" and "damaging to Rome."

The situation was resolved following an emergency meeting between the city and Italy's biggest trade union confederation CGIL on 15 May, and the five custodians required to work overtime were made available. However a maximum of just 3,000 visitors will be admitted, by booking in advance, with access to only certain parts of the Colosseum.

Italy's culture minister Dario Franceschini tweeted his satisfaction that "common sense" had prevailed, the trade union congratulated itself and its workers, while Marino described the arrangement as "a victory for everybody."

Notte dei Musei involves the opening of museums, galleries, monuments and archaeological sites in Rome and throughout Italy, with national museums open until midnight and city museums open until 02.00.

This is the sixth year that Italy has participated in the event, however, unlike the 2013 edition, this year's event is not free. There is a "symbolic" ticket price of €1 for each state and municipal site but entry is free into embassies, academies, foreign cultural institutes, libraries, houses, cultural centres and theatres.

There will be around 420 sites open across Italy while among the many Rome venues participating are the Capitoline Museums, Centrale Montemartini, Trajan's Markets, the Ara Pacis, and the Scuderie del Quirinale.

During the evening the permanent and temporary exhibitions are enlivened by concerts, theatrical and dance performances, readings, screenings, lectures, guided tours and workshops.

The capital's foreign institutions involved in the initiative include the French embassy in Piazza Farnese, the Brazilian embassy in Piazza Navona, the Spanish Academy on the Janiculum hill, and the Belgian Academy, Japanese Cultural Institute and Egyptian Academy in the Valle Giulia district.

The European-wide event has taken place annually since 2005 and last year’s event in Rome attracted 270,000 people. For full details of the event, see the city website.

Photo Corriere della Sera