The Ara Pacis Museum - History and Facts | History Hit

The Ara Pacis Museum

Rome, Lazio, Italy

The Ara Pacis Museum displays the Emperor Augustus’s Altar of Peace.

Antara Bate

24 Nov 2020

About The Ara Pacis Museum

The Ara Pacis Museum (Museo dell Ara Pacis) in Rome houses the Altar of Peace, which was built under instructions from the Emperor Augustus and sanctioned by the Senate.

The Ara Pacis Museum

Augustus decided to build the Ara Pacis to celebrate his military campaigns which resulted in the outbreak of peace in the Mediterranean.

Dedicated on 30 January 9 BC, the Ara Pacis was originally located on a site known as the Field of Mars. The altar itself is surrounded by marble walls adorned with elaborate friezes of various figures, including senate members and members of Augustus’s family. These carved figures take part in a procession celebrating the peace brought about by Augustus.

Together with the altar, a sundial, composed of an Egyptian obelisk and known as Solarium Augusti, was erected in the same period.

Fragments of the monument were rediscovered in the 16th century, but the Ara Pacis site was not fully excavated until 1937.

In 1938, Italy’s dictator Benito Mussolini decided that the recomposed altar remains should be moved from their original location and prominently displayed in a dedicated building, intending to emphasize the glorious past of the then recently established Italian Empire. Therefore, he commissioned the Italian architect Vittorio Balio Morpurgo the design of a new home for the Ara Pacis near the Mausoleum of Augustus, together with which it would have created a monumental ensemble of Roman antiquities on the Tiber river bank.

The pavilion was inaugurated by Mussolini himself on September 23, 1938.

The protective pavilion was restored after World War II but, in the early ’90s, it became evident that the enclosure was no longer adequate to protect the monument from weather and pollution. A brand new building was therefore created after a design by American architectural firm Richard Meier & Partners and was inaugurated in 2006.

The Ara Pacis Museum today

Today situated in the historical city centre, not far from Piazzale Flaminio, it retains all of its ancient and evocative fascination. It stands inside a bright and spacious modern structure and the museum is divided into 3 main areas.

In 2017, the museum introduced an augmented reality installation which provides 360° interactive views of the original appearance of the altar with all its vividly colored decorations.

The Ara Pacis museum also hosts temporary exhibitions, live performances, and special events.

Getting to the Ara Pacis Museum

The museum is located on the Lungotevere in Augusta next to the Piazza Augusto Imperatore. Visitors can take bus lines 70,81,117, 119, 186 and 628 to get there.

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