On Thursday, Rome’s Maxxi museum went into a form of special administration under Italy’s culture ministry. Fears are growing that debts and funding cuts could force it to permanently close. A press release from the culture ministry stated that the architect Antonia Pasqua Recchia has been appointed to take over the running of the gallery, until further notice. Maxxi opened to much public fanfare two years ago with its spectacular building designed by the Anglo-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid. It is located in Rome’s Flaminio quarter and features innovative and spectacular project and exhibition spaces.
The ethos of the museum addresses the importance of promoting current creative expressions. The aesthetic tensions, artistic and cultural genres of past eras, albeit through radically different expressive forms. MAXXI’s mission is therefore that of promoting and developing this sense of continuity, projecting it towards the future. The museum was not designed only to be a container for the exhibition of the works of contemporary art, but also as a place for cultural innovation and the overlapping of languages, a laboratory for artistic experimentation, a machine for the production of aesthetic materials of our time.
Maxxi has blamed funding cuts of 43 percent last year compared to 2010. Without intervention, ministry authorities warned that the museum’s losses could reach 11 million euros ($14 million) in the next three years. In a period of intense austerity in crisis-hit Italy, Recchia will be tasked with finding sponsors from the private sector to save the museum from closure. “I will do everything possible to maintain Maxxi’s schedule and its standing on the international stage,” Pasqua Recchia was quoted as saying by the ANSA news agency.
The museum, which cost the Italian government 150 million euros to build, has been hailed a success by many, but has struggled to stay afloat after cuts have seen its budget reduced to just two million euros a year.”It is difficult to understand why the museum has not been helped earlier and why it has had to go through this traumatic event,” said Umberto Croppi, cultural representative for the centrist Future and Freedom party.”This will have serious repercussions on its international image,” he said.
The National Museum of XXI Century Arts, was the first Italian national institution devoted to contemporary creativity and conceived as a broad cultural campus. MAXXI is managed by a Foundation constituted in the July of 2009 by the Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities and houses two museums: MAXXI Art and MAXXI Architecture.
The programming of the activities – exhibitions, workshops, conferences, shows, projections, educational projects – reflects MAXXI’s vocation as a place for the conservation and exhibition of its collections but also, and above all, a laboratory for cultural experimentation and innovation, for the study, research and production of the aesthetic contents. The Museum won the prestigious Sterling Prize in 2011 for its design.