While there is no denying the great historical significance the city holds, it is also true that as a society progresses and needs shift, what is old must become new. In the age of upcycling and vintage adoration, this concept has had an interesting effect for some of Rome’s architecture particularly large industrial spaces. Ex-factories, old warehouses, abandoned marketplaces, and former forts, which otherwise would be left to ruin have all become contenders for a rebirth into the art world. We’ve compiled a few of these repurposed spaces for you get to know and love, or at the very least peak your interest. The follow are four repurposed spaces in Rome now used to exhibit art.
Located in the outskirts of the city, this ex-salami factory became occupied by refugees in recent years. As many occupied spaces, the building wasn’t quite up code for human habitation. The building had long been abandoned and riddled with irreparable damage. Luckily street artists came to the rescue here! Flocking in from all over the world, these artists found a fix for the situation by doing what they do best, and filling the space with some of the most beautiful and colorful large scale murals, and breathing positive air back into the old factory. The popularity helped get the space museum status with all proceeds going into making the building legitimate homes for its tenants. The humanitarian effort in this buildings history is really heartwarming and inspirational. A little visiting tip: since this space is a place where people actually live the museum is only open on Saturday’s by appointment.
A former electrical power plant turned museum, Centrale Montemartini opened in efforts of displaying some of Rome’s lesser known works which had been hidden away in storage for years. let’s face it Rome’s got a LOT of ancient art and only so much room for exhibiting it, leaving some really lovely statues in a “always the bridesmaid, never the bride” type situation”. However, the repurposing of the space became two-fold in nature. Not only did the renovated space provide a new home for these works, but turned an abandoned and unused space into a gorgeous documentation of the buildings original functional purpose. All resulting in a truly unique way to view and experience these different aspects of Roman history.
Another street art favorite, Forte Prenestino was a military fort built in the 19th century, and then later left abandoned as need for it completely diminished. In the late 80’s the forte was occupied by a group of young creatives and artists, and now holds events and art markets, and musical gatherings throughout its graffiti covered corridors. One of the most popular festivals annually held by the forte is the “CRACK” festival for drawn and printed art which always brings in a huge crowd looking for original, one-of-a-kind art. A little visiting tip: known for its liberal political activism, Forte Prenestino is definitely an atypical space and not for everyone due to its punk natured and rebellious atmosphere, but the pure “art-for-arts-sake” spirit it exudes is absolutely invigorating.
Originally built in 1888 by architect Gioacchino Ersoch, this space was a functioning slaughterhouse in its day. Currently, and a lot less morbidly, Mattatoio is a space for exhibitions and events rooted in contemporary arts and architecture. The space being herald one of the city’s most important industrial archeological buildings because of its modern and original structure, just being inside it is a cool experience in itself, with its warm brick wall and use of arched steel beams. The complex holds many of Rome’s most prominent concerts and festivals. Mattatoio is another big must for street art lovers, holding the popular “Outdoor Festival” to annually display works from artists all over the world.
While our list of these intriguing venues is continually lengthening, these four stand at the forefront of the repurposing movement. Each dually exhibiting the new and exciting, while paying respect and homage to Rome’s past through the reuse of abandoned spaces. We highly recommend taking the time to look around for a unique experience in Rome's culturally rich art scene.
Written by Arugalaa