I am in Rome for research and I’ve just gone to the Centrale Montemartini, a very inspiring visit. Looking for a provisional space for Roman statues and artefacts when building the new branches of the Musei Capitolini, the Soprintendenza Archeologica di Roma chose an early 20th century industrial building on the via Ostiense. The Centrale Montemartini was a thermoelectric station opened in 1912, later transformed and slowly dismissed. In the 80ies instead of demolition, the Centrale was restored to become a museum of electricity. The place looked ideal for a temporary exhibit called ‘The Gods and the Machines’ for the large spaces available. It seemed also intriguing to place Roman antiquities into a building that had been planned and inaugurated in the same decades when most of the archaeological pieces on display had been discovered. The exhibit was so successful that it became permanent and has been recently increased by more materials and new rooms. The Centrale Montemartini is now fully integrated into the Musei Capitolini system.
Among the masterpieces on show I was obviously attracted by Egyptian pieces and themes. This head of a Ptolemaic queen, maybe Cleopatra, was found in 1886 in via Labicana, in the third regio called Isis and Serapis due to the presence of a temple devoted to the Egyptian gods.
In the light of the Roman trip, I am now dreaming of an exhibit of the Rylands papyri and the Manchester Museum Egyptian antiquities in one of the Rylands or Haworth’s dismissed cotton mills or warehouse…will we find one?