One of Rome’s most unique exhibition spaces is housed in a former thermoelectric plant, and provides an extraordinary backdrop for classical art and industrial archaeology converted into a museum.
The Centrale Montemartini was the first public power plant to produce electricity for the city of Rome. Founded at the turn of the 19th century on Via Ostiense, it still occupies a large block between the ex-wholesale market, the Gazometro (defunct methane gas meter) and the left bank of the Tiber river.
The one of a kind contrast that makes Centrale Montemartini unique is offered by monumental electric turbines that act as the stage for masterpieces of ancient sculpture and precious artifacts found in late 19th century excavations, which illustrate through a well-designed exhibit, the actual development of ancient Rome from the Republican era to the late imperial age.
Just imagine exquisite Roman marble sculptures, and rare Greek originals (brought to Rome during the Augustan era) artfully located in a vast boiler hall: a rectangular room measuring more than 1,000 square meters, dominated by an immense steam boiler. This is just one of three boilers originally installed, and it rises from floor to ceiling in a complex network of knotted pipes, bricks and suspended metal walkways.
But the most striking installation is perhaps the one occupying the Hall of Machines, where two towering turbines face the reconstruction of the temple of Apollo Sosiano pediment, which narrates in bas relief, a Greek battle, in which the figures of Herakles, Theseus, Athena and Nike take center stage.