The city-block-long museum, is the first new construction in the ancient City since the 1930s. Designed by the architect Richard Meier and opened in 2006, it sits on Lungotevere not far from the walled-in banks of the Tiber. A travertine and glass container, it is the new permanent home of the Ara Pacis.
Commissioned by the Roman senate and built to celebrate the victories of the Emperor Augustus in Gaul and Spain, the magnificent marble Ara Pacis symbolizes prosperity and peace. Constructed on the northern part of the Campus Martius or Field of Mars, a low lying plain on the Tiber, it succumbed to the unrelenting build-up of new ground caused by the river’s continuous flooding. Once buried, the altar was forgotten for a thousand years until pieces of it were found in the 16th century. Its complete restoration, however, did not happen until 1938. It was then housed in a cement portico for the next fifty years until the structure proved inadequate to preserve the sublime altar and the City undertook to build it a safe and beautiful new home.
To be continued…
All original content copyright 2008 Mary E. Slocum