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Zaha Hadid, MAXXI National Museum of XXI Century Arts, Rome

Zaha Hadid's Maxxi Museum in Rome showcases 21st century art in a unique concrete structure. Drawing inspiration from modernism and constructivism, the museum's design features metallic columns, playful staircases, and ribbons of space. Hadid's innovative design reflects the evolution of museum architecture in the 21st century.

Zaha Hadid, MAXXI National Museum of XXI Century Arts, 1998 -- 2009 (opened 2010), Via Guido Reni, Rome. A conversation between Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker.
Created by Steven Zucker and Beth Harris.

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  • hopper cool style avatar for user ☣Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ☢ Ŧeaçheя  Simρsoɳ ☢Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ☣
    @ he says most of museums in Europe are mostly palaces, which is kind of cool all by itself, but I was wondering if that is just in Europe, or is it true in other parts of the world as well? I don't think we have museums in the US that are in converted palaces do we? Does anyone know of examples outside of Europe? Thanks T.S.
    (7 votes)
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    • leaf green style avatar for user weber
      Even in the US, where there isn't official royalty, the structural equivalents of castles and palaces from the pre-income tax era (the Biltmore, Hearst Castle and the like) have been converted to museums, though more as monuments to an era of private opulence, and the objects their owners commissioned or collected, rather than as strictly art museums. J.P. Morgan, who left so much to the Met in NY (in fact he helped found it ), also made his private library a public space upon his death. Not much repurposing there, though.
      (8 votes)
  • duskpin ultimate style avatar for user Fred12
    it looks like a bulk of black dirty concrete that someone planted into a city with houses with fassades that are several hundred years old, it looks kind of awkward and out of place in such a city with such an ancient history....
    (5 votes)
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    • leaf green style avatar for user weber
      It would be a little odd, I think, to build some sort of faux-Renaissance structure to house 21st Century art, and the interior of this building looks very intriguing as well as appearing to be a commentary on what can be done with modern materials and techniques. Maybe it's just the way it's shoehorned into it's location that seems jarring. Though that, too, was probably intentional.
      (9 votes)
  • leafers ultimate style avatar for user Rob
    Ok, goofy question: so does "XXI Century Arts" mean "21st Century Arts" or "21 Century Arts"? Is there an implied "st" when using roman numerals? (it's early and I'm tired)
    (4 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user Arsen Andriadi
    Why does authors of this video decided that Malevich was russian artist? He was born in Volinska oblast in Ukraine, in polish family, and considered himself like ukrainian artist.
    (3 votes)
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    • blobby green style avatar for user drszucker
      You are correct. Its worth noting however that the artist moved from Ukraine, which had been part of the Russian Empire, to Russia when he was about 18 years old. As I understand it, his professional and adult life was largely centered in Russia until his death and so he is broadly considered a Russian or Soviet artist. In my view this does not in anyway negate his childhood in Ukraine or his Polish heritage.
      (4 votes)
  • sneak peak green style avatar for user Cybernetic Organism
    Do any urban planners and architects pay any attention to popular public opinion and their concerns? It seems that there is a considerable split between the popular opinion about these modernist buildings and that of architectural intellectuals and critics.

    You hear very often that public is very dissatisfied with these brutalist architecture buildings and yet they are still being built. What is more astonishing is that these particular architects win Pritzker Prize of Architecture.
    (2 votes)
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  • male robot hal style avatar for user Gilbert,Keven
    what are arches
    (0 votes)
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Video transcript

(jazzy piano music) Voiceover: We're just north of the center of Rome looking at Zaha Hadid's relatively new building, the Maxxi Museum, devoted to 21st century art. As we approached the museum we walked by military barracks and we just begin to spot the concrete facade of the museum resting gently on the older buildings, poking its nose around the older buildings. Until we walked into a large piazza where the full whiff of the building is apparent. Voiceover: In some ways it seems to have almost landed on that older structure. Voiceover: The fact that it feels like it's landed suggest weightlessness despite the fact that it is an almost unbroken slab of concrete and that's in part because of the shadow created by the overhang of that concrete reminiscent of the international style and the work of people like Le Corbusier or Mies van der Rohe. Voiceover: In the facade of the building, rows of metallic columns that might remind us of Bernini's piazza at St. Peter's. Voiceover: There's also the historical precedent of this concrete material that the ancient Romans perfected and used to shape space and she is very much the inheritor of that tradition. Voiceover: Although we don't see those round arches like a Roman aqueduct or the Pantheon, it's almost like those round arches have tilted and become horizontal and moved the visitor to the museum through ribbons of space. Voiceover: Zaha Hadid has won virtually every major international architectural price. Voiceover: She was born in Iraq but is a British architect. She holds faculty positions at numerous universities all over the world. Voiceover: Right after school she had worked for Rem Koolhaas at his Office for Metropolitan Architecture. This was one of the most inventive and theoretically important architectural firms in the 1970s and 1980s. Voiceover: Hadid is clearly drawing inspiration from modernism, from constructivism, from the work of the great Russian painters of the early 20th century like Malevich, embodying early 20th century Utopianism about the modern city. Voiceover: In the warm grace of the concrete, in the silvery grace of the metal flooring and in the blacks and whites. It reminds me of the interest in translucency, transparency and opaqueness that you see especially in the work of artists like Moholy-Nagy. in the early part of the 20th century, as well as an abashed interest in the power of pure geometry. Voiceover: Looking toward Islamic art as well as modernist architecture. Voiceover: In fact, she mentions the importance of having seen the minaret at Samarra. This massive figure that creates very clean, stark geometric lines and that creates a ribbon for people to walk up. Voiceover: There is that sense of ribbons of space, that path around the minaret coming undone and branching out when we walk through the spaces of the museum. There is something very exciting about moving through this building and not knowing what one will come across next. No matter which galleries we go into, we're drawn back to this fabulous stairways that are black but lit underneath with white light. Voiceover: We're walking on metal grids and this entire interior space seems to be a contrast between this wonderful curvilinear ribbons and strict rectilinear geometries. Voiceover: We see those rectilinear geometries in the walls withe the blocks of concrete, in the stairs and in the concrete beams that almost read these blades along the ceiling. Voiceover: Our eye shoots along those beams and are slowed only by the thins of the louvers. Voiceover: The stairways move like bends in and around those rectilinear shapes and feel very playful. Voiceover: The staircase is not only bend but also double back creating sharp angles. They do feel playful, almost as if you could have a huge metal ball that runs along as if they were a track. There's also a hint of the sinister and at least one critic has likened it to the Prince of Piranesi in the way that they seem to move in every direction with endless multiplication. Voiceover: Of different spaces weaving together and going back out again. Voiceover: Sometimes rushing from one space to another and sometimes slowing down. Voiceover: The architect said, and I'm quoting here, "My first idea was about a delta where the mainstreams become the galleries and minor ones become bridges which connect to them." Of course, a delta is a river that forks and flows into the sea. Voiceover: What does it mean to design a museum in the 21st century? If you think about the history of museums, they're generally palaces that have been re-purposed. For example, the Leuven, Paris which was the royal residence of the King fo France or here in Rome, the Vatican Museum is the Papal palace. Voiceover: You could think about many of the palazzi in Rome that were once family palaces that are now museums. Voiceover: The Barberini Palace, for example. Voiceover: We could think about the early modernist architecture of the Museum of Modern Art. Museum architecture says a lot about how we see ourselves and how we see our cultural heritage and how we move into the future. Do we look to the past? Do we look forward? Voicover: That's an especially salient issue here in Rome. A city with an overwhelming history. [jazzy piano music]