Rome’s National Museum of Oriental Art moves to EUR

Oriental museum has closed pending move to Rome suburbs.

The Italian culture ministry is to transfer Rome's recently-closed oriental museum from its Via Merulana base in the Esquilino district to the Museo Pigorini in the city's southern EUR suburb.

The Palazzo Brancaccio headquarters of the Museo Nazionale d'Arte Orientale (MNAO) has been closed to the public since 1 November.

Initially there was confusion surrounding the museum's closure, which was reported as "permanent" in the media but was denounced subsequently as "fake news" by director Filippo Maria Gambari.

The ministry's decision to move the national oriental art collection is centred around the fact that the museum's home, since its founding in 1957, has been the privately-owned Palazzo Brancaccio. 

The building was not large enough to house all of the museum's 40,000 pieces from the Near and Middle East, China, Japan and Nepal as well as its collection of Islamic art. In addition it was constrained from future expansion.

The move to a section of the Museo Pigorini, a expansive premises housing prehistoric Italian artefacts and ethnological material, would allow the oriental collection to be displayed in full. The new location in EUR would provide the museum with 10,000 sqm of space, compared to the 3,000 sqm on Via Merulana. 

The new rent of “less than one million” would be paid to the Istituto Nazionale Assicurazione Infortuni sul Lavoro (INAIL), a public non-profit body, in comparison to the former €700,000 paid to the private owners of the Palazzo Brancaccio apartments. The new location would however grant the museum space for a restaurant and bookshop which would generate additional revenue.

The museum expects to begin showing part of its collection at the new EUR base by the end of this year, with its entire collection to go on gradual display during 2019.