The MAXXI Museum in Rome designed by Zaha Hadid. By Glenn Belverio

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Dear Shaded Viewers,

I'm in Rome covering Alta Roma Alta Moda and yesterday I made a mandatory stop at Rome's brand-new contemporary art museum, MAXXI (which basically means, Museum of Art for the 21st Century). It's designed by uber-trendy Zaha Hadid, the Iraqi architect. The giant skeleton in front of the building is by the late artist Gino De Domincis. 

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My Alta Roma sidekick, Italian journalist Nunzia Garoffolo. We bonded last summer in Rome when I found out she's from Reggio di Calabria, which is where my Great-Father was born.

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Me having a vintage Karl Lagerfeld moment in front of MAXXI. Nunzia dismisses Hadid's design as looking like "an airport lounge" but I don't think she realizes how chic European airports are compared to the crappy ones like Newark and LaGuardia. 

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Visitors are only allowed to photograph the architecture, not the art. For me, Hadid's design really comes alive inside the museum as you travel along her twisty, curvy ramps, not sure where they will take you and what surprises lie beyond them.

There are 5 floors and my hyper-critical recommendation is to just let the art wash over you in a visceral fashion. Many of the pieces are so interesting to look at and listen to (like the fabulous wooden boxes that emanate music & singing from various regions in Italy, the sounds overlapping in a phantasmagoric Babel-like cacophony as you wander past them) but the impact is often ruined by the accompanying wall texts. Why? Because the ridiculous political correctness described in some of the texts is so dated and cliched, some of them almost read as parodies of PC art from the '80s and early '90s. Yes, that means lots of art that critiques "globalization" (still? seriously?), "colonialism", "Westernization" and of course, lots of pedestrian proclamations about the oppression of women. This jaded New Yorker grew tired of these gestures by 1993. But the art is pretty! And despite what many Romans have said (that Hadid's design will overpower and kill the art), the architecture compliments and adds to the enjoyment of the art. Just go!

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Baci,

Glenn Belverio
 
 

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