First-time visitors to Rome, an ancient capital filled to the brim with architectural wonders, should be legally obliged to spend all their time marvelling at the prowess of the designers and engineers who built this city over millennia. But if you’ve visited before and thoroughly explored all the must-see monuments, make time for something new. Rome just so happens to offer its guests a vibrant modern art scene as well, showcasing some of Italy’s most outstanding contemporary cultural gems.
MAXXI is Italy’s preeminent national museum devoted to modern art. Situated in Rome’s northern Quartiere Flaminio, the museum is housed in a strikingly futuristic building designed by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid. MAXXI is committed to its permanent collection, featuring talents like the architects Carlo Scarpa, Paolo Soleri and others, as well as hosting exhibitions, training sessions and cultural events that explore the development of modern-day Italian art and architecture.
Gagosian Gallery Rome
If you really want to dive into the modern art world, and perhaps catch a glimpse of some original work by the likes of Jackson Pollock, Cy Twombly and Joe Bradley, swing by the Gagosian Gallery Rome on Via Francesco Crispi, just a six-minute walk from the Trevi Fountain. With famed artists exhibiting in Gagosian Galleries around the globe, from Paris and London to New York and Hong Kong, expect varied and innovative artistic exhibits.
Rome’s Museo di Arte Contemporanea di Roma, or MACRO, has taken over two restored buildings — a converted Peroni brewery at Via Nizza and a strangely beautiful former slaughterhouse at Testaccio. With a profusion of black decor, vast open spaces and lots of natural light filtering inside, both locations create a brilliant atmosphere for modern Italian art. The permanent collection focuses on work from the 1960s onward, featuring artists and painters like Carla Accardi, Enzo Cucchi and Piero Dorazio. The museum provides ample space for thought-provoking temporary exhibitions as well.
Galleria Lorcan O’Neill Roma
Just southeast of the Hotel Indigo Rome — St George, in Rome’s historic centre, a few blocks away from the cobblestoned Via Giulia, you’ll stumble across the Galleria Lorcan O’Neill Roma. This pristine, private art gallery, opened by the Irish-born O’Neill, promotes the artwork of Italian and foreign artists alike, providing talented souls with an inviting spot to display their creations. Notable artists, including Gianni Politi, Richard Long, Giorgio Griffa, Martin Creed and Rachel Whiteread have all shown work here. This amazing space is a must for any contemporary art fan wandering through Rome.