This extraordinary example of industrial archaeology converted into a museum - the first public electricity plant, named after Giovanni Montemartini – is the newest addition to the Capitoline Museums exhibition space.
Situated on Via Ostiense on the left bank of the Tiber, opposite the former General markets, the Montemartini Power Plant is an extraordinary example of an industrial building transformed into an exhibition space.
It was originally the first public electricity plant in Rome, named after Giovanni Montemartini; now it is the second exhibition centre of the Capitoline Museums, and contains an outstanding collection of classical sculpture from the excavations carried out in Rome at the end of the nineteenth century and during the first decades of the twentieth.
The display reconstructs the monumental complexes of antiquity, tracing the development of the city from the Republic to the Late Empire. It includes works of great significance, often almost unknown to the general public, such as the huge mosaic of hunting scenes from Saint Bibiana.
The vast rooms inside the building, in particular the Hall of the Machines with its fine Liberty style furnishings, preserve turbines, diesel engines and colossal steam boilers from the power plant unaltered. This striking backdrop accentuates the translucent clarity and delicate sculpting of the antique marble.
The masterpieces of ancient sculpture displayed here, such as the sculptural group from the Temple of Apollo Sosianus, the colossal acrolithic statue of the goddess of Fortune from the Largo Argentina, and the pensive figure of the muse Polimnia, are all the more remarkable against such an intriguing backdrop. The museum recalls simultaneously the monumental grandeur of ancient Rome and the memory of the more recent industrial past.