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Rome’s Maxxi museum’s art collection travels to Rio for the Olympics

by Lorenzo Zanini

Italy’s athletes will not be the only ones flying to Rio next month for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Italian culture will have its say, too, with two exhibitions. The first exhibit will showcase art and architecture collections from the Maxxi, Rome’s National Museum of 21st Century Arts, designed by Zaha Hadid; the second will display archaeological finds on the Olympic Games from Greece and Rome.

Both exhibitions are part of Italy’s promotion efforts linked to the global sporting event. Finally, the Christ Redeemer, the symbol of Rio de Janeiro, will be lit with Italy’s national colors.

“As Pirelli promised, it will occur on August 3, when Prime Minister Matteo Renzi inaugurates House Italy,” said in recent days CONI president Giovanni Malagò, referring to Pirelli’s sponsorship of the restoration of the statue.

Art lovers will have a chance to view the Maxxi collections at the Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro: until September 11, works by 19 artists, including Maurizio Cattelan, Michelangelo Pistoletto and Luigi Ontani, will be on display.

The exhibition “Art on Stage,” curated by Anna Mattirolo, will range from Arte Povera to the use of technology and will document the languages of contemporary art through photos, drawings, paintings, prints, installations and videos, architectural models and sketches.

“Along with this extraordinary exhibit, events will be held in Italian museums, with each state-owned museum highlighting, from the first Sunday of August and for the duration of the Olympics, an artwork depicting a sports activity,” said Culture Minister Dario Franceschini.

On July 26, the exhibition “The Games in Ancient Greece and Rome,” curated by Eugenio La Rocca, will open at the Museum of Fine Arts of Rio. It will feature 54 artworks on different Olympic sports and a media room where 3D reconstructions of the Colosseum, the Circus Maximus and the Stadium of Domitian will be shown.

The exhibition will also evoke the great Olympic and Paralympic Games held in Rome in 1960.

“It aims to illustrate how the Olympic Games started,” said La Rocca. “The awards were very simple and meager. In the Ancient Games, the crowns were made of wild celery. The sports competitions have changed, but some of them still exist today, and are important disciplines in the most recent Olympic Games, such as javelin, boxing and wrestling. Other more dangerous sports have since changed.”