Tor Marancia Condominium Museum
The township of murals: when art transforms lives.
What it is and where it is
"This room has no more walls," sang Gino Paoli. Substitute museum for room and, voilà, enjoy the stunning effect of the Tor Marancia Condominium Museum, a former suburb housing lot in the capital's southern suburbs transformed by street art into a contemporary art district to wander around with your nose in the air to admire the murals, all different, that 22 artists from around the world have drawn on walls more than 14 meters high. Among them are Diamond, Jerico, Moneyless and Pantonio. In this particular place not even half an hour from the city center you find an unprecedented mix of Roman veracity and international art.
Why it is special
As you enter the apartment building, amidst hanging laundry and small gardens, you discover without a set itinerary the beauty of the murals and the special atmosphere of welcome you feel. It is like immersing yourself in a forgotten piece of Roman history. By observing or even exchanging a few words with the apartment buildings who, from initially wary have become the project's staunchest supporters, you can get a taste of the transformative power of art. You are actually in a museum that is so unique in the world that it is being studied by more than 40 universities and research centers and has even been visited by many international dignitaries, including the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau.
Not to be missed
The first murals are visible from the street. In particular the one by Hong Kong artist Caratoes, the only non-monumental one, reads "Welcome to Shangai": welcome to Shangai, as it was called Tor Marancia since the 1930s when the poor houses were flooded by the nearby marrana. Many murals pay homage to the history of the borough and its residents. Guido Van Helten transposed on the wall an archival photo of a girl sent away from the Borgo, near St. Peter's, to end up in the suburbs. Among the most beloved is "Our Lady of Shanghai," Mr. Klevra's work that protects the apartment building.
A bit of history
The museum was born in 2015 thanks to the "Big City Life" public art project at the proposal of Stefano Antonelli's 999Contemporary association and the involvement of the City Council and other institutions. The redevelopment goal was not easy: Tor Marancia still suffers from its origin as a poor suburb. But the genuinely participatory intent made all the difference. Artists and residents got to know each other, exchanged stories and favors, pieces of life together, some forever imprinted on the walls of houses. So much so that those houses now residents couldn't imagine them any different and proudly organize tours.
One of the most beautiful stories is related to the mural "Veni Vidi Vinci" by Lek & Sowat. What appears to be a typo in Julius Caesar's famous phrase is instead an exhortation dedicated to Andrea, a boy in a wheelchair who lives in that building unfortunately without an elevator. Win Andrea! and Andrea won because thanks to the impetus of the project and a grassroots fundraising effort, the elevator could finally be installed.
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