Palazzo Merulana houses Cerasi collection of 20th-century Italian art.
A new museum hosting the important early 20th-century art collection of the Cerasi Foundation opens at Palazzo Merulana in Rome's Esquilino district on 11 May.
The city-owned building on Via Merulana 121 – once the home of Rome's health offices – has undergone an extensive three-year restoration after lying in a state of disrepair for decades, with several sections abandoned for 60 years. The public-private venture has entrusted the museum's management to Coopculture, Italy's largest cooperative in the heritage and cultural activities sector.
The collection of Claudio and Elena Cerasi – of the prominent construction firm behind major projects such as the MAXXI Museo delle Arte del XXI secolo – comprises 90 works, much of it created between the two world wars, including paintings from the Scuola Romana movement.
During the press conference to launch the museum on 10 May, Rome mayor Virginia Raggi thanked Claudio Cerasi for his "enormous gift to the city" while Coopculture head Letizia Casuccio praised the "courage" of the entrepreneur who has shown "a great love for Rome and a great love for art."
The Cerasi's €5 million restoration project involved refurbishing the entire four-storey building, which was built in 1929 and now offers 1,800sqm of exhibition space. The bulk of the collection is on the first floor whose magnificent central salone is filled with works by artists such as Balla, Cambellotti, de Chirico, Donghi, Capagrossi, Casorati, Pirandello and Severini.
The second floor has space for exhibitions, as well as containing works by Boetti, Mafai, Raphaël and Schifano, while the top floor is reserved for cultural events. This openness to collaboration with Rome's artistic scene, in particular with cultural associations in the multi-ethnic Esquilino neighbourhood, is a central focus of the museum which will be a hub for theatre, cinema and music, in addition to visual art.
The spacious ground floor of the palazzo houses a collection of sculpture and can be visited for free, with an art bookshop and outdoor terrace for coffee. Located at the corner with Viale Manzoni, the museum is a ten-minute walk from the Colosseum and is served well by buses, tram and the Metro A line at Manzoni.
Tickets cost just €4 and, unlike many Rome museums, Palazzo Merulana will be open on a Monday (but closed on a Tuesday). Its opening hours in May are 09.00-20.00 but from June onwards it will be open on weekdays (except Tuesday) from 14.00-20.00 and at weekends from 10.00-20.00. The museum will also open on request, for groups and schools, during the mornings.
It is clear that no expense has been spared in creating Palazzo Merulana whose extraordinary art collection and central location make it a most welcome addition to the capital's museum circuit.