From the end of September it should be possible to visit the building site at the Ara Pacis on Lungotevere in Augusta on weekends, ahead of the official unveiling of American architect Richard Meiers museum complex in approximately six months time. Details of the tours are still being worked out; however, they will be available on prior booking through the city authorities and will include a visit to the altar itself. The monument, erected by the emperor Augustus on a nearby plot between 13 and 9 BC to celebrate the establishment of peace in the empire, has been closed to the public since work on the complex started nearly five years ago.
The museum, when complete, will include a central hall housing the Ara Pacis, a 600-seat auditorium and exhibition space. Outside, there will be a terrace containing a central obelisk and a low fountain running its length. The structure replaces the original pavilion built by Ballio Morpurgo in 1938, which was demolished in spring 2001. The new complex was originally scheduled for completion in April 2004.
The partial reopening is being marked on 23 September, when city mayor Walter Veltroni will lead a group of invited guests on a special tour of the site to coincide with the date of the first Roman emperors birth in 63 BC.
The event will also be the occasion for the announcement of the long-awaited architectural competition to redesign the adjacent Piazza Augusto Imperatore. At the same time, the city authorities are expected to announce plans to create a traffic underpass along Lungotevere in Augusta, leading to the pedestrianisation of the area between the new museum and the Tiber. According to Architect Gennaro Farina, director of the city department responsible for overseeing construction of Meiers pavilion, this project should get under way within a year and take a further two years to complete.