Italy has allocated €15 million ($17 million) toward an ambitious plan to turn MAXXI, a contemporary art museum in Rome, in a sustainability and research hub. The grant was announced as part of a program that saw the Italian government distribute €200 million in funding to 38 cultural heritage sites across the country.
On Thursday, Dario Franchesini, Italy’s Minister of Cultural Heritage, joined the the president of the MAXXI Foundation, Giovanna Melandri, and other Italian officials at the Flamino museum in a press conference to unveil the new project. The proposed initiative, dubbed “Grande Maxxi,” will see the institution be converted to an energy-efficient model. As part of the project, a new multifunctional research center will be built. The government is seeking proposals for the design.
“In our country, in fact, for too long there has been little space left for the present, for contemporary art, for creative industries,” Franceschini said in a statement, calling the new plan “a sustainable project and an investment in contemporary art, research and innovation.”
In 2010, the Zaha Hadid–designed museum became the first public institution in the country devoted solely to contemporary art. In the past, it has faced threats of being closed down by governmental shortfalls.
Other major attractions in Rome and Naples received generous funding. The Royal Palace in Naples received €23 million ($26 million), the most funding of any of the 38 recognized sites. Some €14 million ($16 million) will go to Rome’s famed 19th-century “Iron Bridge” for a repair effort following damage from a large fire in October.
Additional sites receiving funds include antique grounds in need of restoration. The Medicean Villa dell’Ambrogiana in Montelupo Fiorentino, an ancient hospital complex in Siena, and a religious site in Marches received between €7 million–€14 million ($8 million–$16 million).
Three heritage sites valued together at €12.8 million have been approved for the state to purchase. The sites include two historic villas in Rome. The third is an expanse of undeveloped land in Venice that has links to archaeological sites in the southern town of Altino.
In a statement, Franceschini said the investment in the cultural sector is central to the economic and social growth of the country, adding that this round of state funds distributed across 16 Italian locales supports an ongoing effort to bolster the country’s “territorial competitiveness.”