Friday, August 11, 2017

200 Reviews of Rome: The Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna, or National Gallery of Modern Art


4 Stars

Let's start what will generally be a favorable review with a petty criticism: The front stairs of this museum are way too sunny!

If one is approaching this museum in the way I firmly believe one should, one will be descending from out of the Borghese Park. It is a long way down a lovely, but mostly decrepit and shadeless, set of weed and garbage fields, crumbling marble staircases, and occasional dead fountains and obscure parking lots. At the bottom of that hill is one of those 20 lane Roman Roads that are ever roaring with muffler free traffic. After one manages to cross that insane breadth of roadway one finally meets up with the white stairs up to The Modern Museum.

These are the stairs I'm complaining about. Nowhere in all of this is any shade. There are 619 stairs up to the museum. I speak as a person who visited in early fall. Imagine it in the Summer!

I am not here to provide a solution. I am just here to tear beautiful things down on the Internet. I will say though that if Rome would just do something about its SUN maybe everyone who goes there in the Summer wouldn't hate it so.

I don't want anyone to hate Rome. It's so wonderful.

However, once one has made it up the stairs I have no real complaints. The Roman Modern is a big place full of interesting art. It is not the sort of museum one should go to to see all one's favorite modern artists, rather it is a place to see a lot of very good and interesting art from all over the 20th Century. Yes, one will occasionally come upon work by people one knows, but mostly one won't. And if one is prepared for this one won't mind too much because there is a good high standard in this collection.

It is housed in a hundred or so year old building, which by Roman standard is hilariously modern, but it sure doesn't look it. It's a big place and very comfortable to roam around in. In the general crush of Rome and all its staggering sights, this one is a pleasurable and low key relief of quiet and space. I also love its cafe, though, curiously one has to leave and go around to it from the outside for some strange reason. The museum store isn't great, but it's interesting enough, and yes, I'm afraid this museum costs some money. I almost gave the Modern five stars, but that just seems perverse against what all else is in Rome, plus there are the stairs.

In conclusion I would like to relate a mostly irrelevant story. Early in our trip to Rome my wife and I went to this museum and though the building and lobby were open, the museum was undergoing, um, some paintings being moved around or something. We asked when it would open again and they gave a date that was more than two weeks hence! So we said "Okay, we'll see you then." Because we were in Rome for a month!

It was wonderful.

Please don't be jealous.

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