I became slightly obsessed with Hadid and her work, did a lot of research online, followed her career – a most amazing career that includes being the first woman to be awarded the distinguished Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004, founding Zaha Hadid Architects in London (currently working on 950 projects in 44 countries), and designing some of the world’s most unusual structures – and was delighted when I found out that it was she and her firm that was brought in to design the MAXXI in Rome.
MAXXI – the Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo, or National Museum of the 21st Century Arts - was completed in 2010, and consists of two museums, one for art and one for architecture, an auditorium, a library and media library, a bookstore, cafeteria, bar, galleries for traveling exhibits, performances and educational activities, and a large outdoor square for art works and live events.
Details like the above are nice and all, but what really makes Hadid’s MAXXI the “masterpiece fit to sit alongside Rome’s ancient wonders” is more than its function. As all her work is, the museum is a breathtaking structure designed specifically for its context – a looping, swooping, light-filled series of halls and slopes that feels both solid and ethereal. It is filled with bronze creatures and series of flowers in oils or acrylics, architectural models and fashion exhibits, posters and photos, documents and journals… truly the list is endless. Around each new sweep of white corridor lies another wonder, and you cannot help but be drawn onward, upward, and into some kind of otherworldly sensation.
The entire experience echoes and almost feels like a journey to the original ancient city might have, despite or maybe because of the museum’s futuristic design and contemporary art. The MAXXI has become part of what Rome has always been: a world of wonders created by people who are larger than life, who put their stamp on history with a structure that endures for ages and engenders wonder and amazement in us all.
Don’t miss it on your next trip to Rome!