Uncertain future for Rome's MACRO

Rome contemporary art museum without director since last summer

The contracts for the 14 staff members of MACRO, Rome’s gallery of contemporary art, are due to expire on 28 February and there are no clear signs that they will be renewed, according to Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera.

Since the resignation of Bartolomeo Pietromarchi about eight months ago there has been no artistic director of MACRO, which is divided between locations off Via Nomentana, not far from Porta Pia, and Testaccio in the city's reconstructed slaughter house complex. On 5 February its chief press officer Maria Bonmassar resigned.

The remaining 13 in-house staff members – who are employed mainly in administration, archives and education – are under the impression that their contracts may not be renewed. The rest of the work involved in operating the museum is undertaken by external collaborators under the management of Zètema, the association that promotes Rome's city museums.

The city's culture councillor Flavia Barca says that the tender for a new artistic director "has been ready for some time” and would be released soon. Barca said the tender was first announced by Rome mayor Ignazio Marino on 3 November.

MACRO registered 15,000 visitors at its Nomentana gallery in January, and 9,000 in Testaccio during the same period, while in December some 21,000 people visited the Harmonic Motion installation by Japanese artist Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam, part of the seventh edition of Enel Contemporanea, on Via Nizza.

However the 150,000 visitors welcomed by MACRO in 2013 constitutes only half the number of visitors recorded at the city's other contemporary art venue MAXXI, Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XXI Secolo, which is close to the Auditorium Parco della Musica and much more accessibile to the public.

During the administration of former mayor Gianni Alemanno there was talk of transforming MACRO's status from gallery to foundation – opening the door to greater opportunities for private sponsorship of the gallery – but this never happened.