The Museum of Saved Art opens in Rome

The new museum is located inside the octagonal hall of Diocletian’s baths and houses works and artifacts rescued from theft, illegal trade and natural disasters. With one goal: to return the works to their original location

A museum conceived as a transit point where the works saved from theft and proliferation can be stored and presented to the public before returning to their original location. This is the mission of Museum of Hidden Artjust inaugurated in Rome inside the National Roman Museum, in the octagonal hall (called the Planetarium) in Diocletian’s Baths, not far from Termini Station. A place where the stories of rescues of works of art are told, from refunds due to cultural diplomacy or from investigations by the TPC Carabinieri Command, to the work on the Blue Helmets of Culture; and then the stories of the finds under the ruins of earthquakes, the recovery of the stolen works and those saved by the restorations carried out by the Central Institute for Restoration (ICR). “It is useful and necessary to show and make people understand the work of saving works of art from illegal trade, neglect and disasters”declared the Minister of Culture Dario Franceschini during the inauguration of the new museum. “That’s why we decided to bring the Museum of Saved Art to life in a magnificent place like the Octagonal Hall of the Baths of Diocletian at the National Roman Museum. Protect and enhance these riches,” Franceschini continues, “It is an institutional duty, but also a moral obligation: it is necessary to assume this responsibility towards future generations, so that with these testimonies they can preserve the identity value that enables them to recognize themselves in a common cultural history. “.

The works of art found at the Museum of Saved Art in Rome


The museum is located in the western corner of the Baths, The Octagonal Hall, which has a square plan outside and octagonal inside and a dome with eight ribs, originally decorated with marble and stucco. In ancient times, it is believed, the building may have been used as a smaller frigidarium. The hall in 1983 was the main character, as well as the entire National Roman Museum, in restoration work designed by the architect Giovanni Bulian, who arranged for the association of the Hall with the bathing complex. This project will now be completed with the opening of the museum, with the aim of creating a “cultural island” in the center of Rome. The setup of the new museum consists of showcases and modular panels, each time allowing for a different set-up and display of the works, the latter perceived as dynamic: the museum is always ready to welcome new saved masterpieces and let “go away” ” those who are ready to return to their original location.

The works of art found at the Museum of Saved Art in Rome
The works of art found at the Museum of Saved Art in Rome


On the occasion of its inauguration, the Museum of Saved Art presents to the public an exhibition of works recently recovered from TPC operations department, especially a corpus of archeological pieces returned from the United States between December 2021 and recent days. These are finds dating back to the seventh century. BC, from southern Etruria and Lazio, such as the Giara (pithos) of Etruscan production (Cerveteri) with a mythological scene of dazzling of Polyphemus and animals, and the ceremonial crater of northern Lazio production (Crustumerium) with waterfowl. Among other finds are also amphorae from the second half of the sixth century. BC with figurative scenes; pottery from the Etruscan necropolis in the sixth and fifth centuries. BC, such as the cup of the Attic red figure (kylix) with Dionysus (inside) and satyrs with maenads (outside); and again craters and plates with black and red figures dating back to a period between the second half of the V and the first half of the IV century. BC At the end of the exhibition (until 15 October 2022) thanks to the coordination with the Directorate-General for Archeology, Visual Arts and Landscape and the Director-General of the State Museums Massimo Osannawill be located between the National Roman Museum, the National Archaeological Museum of Taranto, the National Archaeological Museum Cerite in the Archaeological Park of Cerveteri and Tarquinia. “Among the hundreds of works that TPC’s operational department brought back from the United States in 2021, a number of votive and architectural ceramics and terracotta from different cultures in central and southern pre-Roman Italy stand out.”emphasizes Massimo Osanna. “The first exhibition presented at the Museo dell’Arte Salvata, in the octagonal hall of Diocletian’s Baths, is dedicated to a selection of these materials of great importance and constitutes the first phase of a path of research and improvement that will bring back, after the exhibition the works in the areas of origin “.


“Protecting the cultural heritage is the mission we have been entrusted with, and for nothing in the world do we want to get rid of it. It is a necessary defense today, as it has always been, “ explains Roberto Riccardibrigadier general, Carabinieri commander of cultural heritage protection. “The protection of heritage referred to in Article 9 of the Constitution has had the most diverse advocates in the history of Italy. It involved sovereigns, popes and intellectuals. Since 1969, the Carabinieri Command for the Protection of Cultural Heritage has been one of the persevering guardians of our works.The recovered assets amount to more than three million, and what is shown in this exhibition is only part of the “prey” that was returned with one of the most recent recoveries “.

The works of art found at the Museum of Saved Art in Rome
The works of art found at the Museum of Saved Art in Rome


“I hope the new Nuseo”declares the director of the National Roman Museum Stéphane Verger, “Welcome large exhibition projects that, on the one hand, act as a ‘safe haven’, for those works that will leave from here to a final location, far from anything that could harm them; on the other hand, from ‘si’, to separate and then move to the right place, the same ones that will be subjected to studies to verify the degree of authenticity and origin: all this to fully understand the archaeological , historical and artistic significance of the treasures found and exhibited for the first time to the public at the National Roman Museum, in the Museum of Salvated Art “.

– Desirée Maida

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