After decades of decay, the Orangerie has recently reopened to the public, carefully restored as a cultural centre. It is now a Museum displaying the collection donated by Carlo Bilotti, a passionate art collector of international renown.
The Orangery was known, in the eighteenth century, as the House of Water Games because of the fountains and nymphaeums found there. It is is adjacent to the Garden of the Lake, with its spectacular lay-out. In the richly decorated and furnished rooms the Borghese princes organized parties and fashionable events. Following the serious damage caused by cannon bombardment in 1849, during the French defence of the papacy against the Roman Republic, all its precious decorations were lost. The building was freely reconstructed and adapted for growing citrus fruits in winter, from whence comes its name.
After decades of decline and improper use, the Orangery has once again become a place of recreation and culture, thanks to a challenging restoration, which has transformed it into a museum to receive a permanent gift of works of art, including paintings, sculpture and sketches, donated to the City of Rome by Carlo Bilotti, an internationally famous Italio-american buyer and collector. The donation consists of twenty-three works.
The nucleus is a collection of paintings and sculptures by Giorgio de Chirico, a representative selection of the artist's most famous subjects between the Twenties and the Seventies. Also included are a portrait of Carlo Bilotti by the American artist Larry Rivers, a portrait of Tina and Lisa Bilotti done in 1981 by the master of Pop Art, Andy Warhol, the portrait of Tina and Carlo Bilotti by Mimmo Rotella, as well as 'Summer' by Gino Severini and finally 'The High Cardinal', a work in bronze by Giacomo Manzù. In the years, the Museum collection has been enhanced through the acquisition of works by Consagra, Dynys, Greenfield-Sanders and Pucci.
To ensure that the museum is always open to new developments in contemporary art, spaces for temporary exhibitions have been included next to the room occupied by the permanent exhibition.
The creation of the Bilotti Museum is an exemplary example of public-private collaboration. As a new cultural institution it represents another piece in the project to transform the Villa Borghese into a Park of Museums, a place specially devoted to artistic and cultural experiences.