Rome Holocaust museum could start spring 2013

Construction of Rome's new national Holocaust Museum is due to get under way in early 2013, according to the city's mayor Gianni Alemanno. The Shoah Museum, which will commemorate Italy’s Jewish victims of the Holocaust, is to be built in the landscaped grounds of Villa Torlonia, the neoclassical former residence of Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini and his family from 1925 to 1943.

Alemanno said that once the contract is put out to tender at the end of January, it would be awarded about two months later. The mayor said the work could then begin in early spring, unless there are legal challenges from the firms who failed to win the contract.

Work on the €22-million project has been delayed several times since it was first presented in 2005 by the then mayor of Rome Walter Veltroni. It should have opened on 18 October 2008 according to initial hopes – the day in 1943 when Rome’s Jews were rounded up and deported to Auschwitz – but it didn't receive the go-ahead from the Italian parliament until 27 January last year, on the occasion of Holocaust Remembrance Day. The process was then delayed further over uncertainty surrounding the financial restrictions in the government's stability pact.

Designed by Italian architects Luca Zevi and Giorgio Tamburini, the Museo della Shoah di Roma forms a cuboid shape. Its high black walls will contain the inscriptions of the names of Italian Jews deported to Nazi concentration camps during world war two. There will be large plaster reproduction of the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland where over a million people were killed.

The grounds of the museum are also the site of important ancient Jewish catacombs – hence the choice of location – and there will be a walkway from the museum to the ancient burial grounds.