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Page last updated at 09:53 GMT, Friday, 2 May 2008 10:53 UK

Rome mayor vows to remove museum

A fashion exhibition inside the Ara Pacis Museum
The Ara Pacis Museum has hosted high-profile exhibitions

The city of Rome's newly elected right-wing mayor has caused waves by vowing to rip down a controversial museum created by a US architect.

Gianni Alemanno said the Ara Pacis Museum, which encases a 2,000-year-old sacrificial altar, "will be removed".

The building, which sits alongside the River Tiber in the heart of Rome, is made of glass and travertine stone.

Richard Meier, who designed the project - finished in 2006 - said he was shocked by the comments.

"I don't know how serious he is," Mr Meier said from New York, adding that he would be ready to come to Rome to discuss the building with Mr Alemanno if invited.

'Invasive'

The striking structure - which includes 500sq m (5,380sq ft) of glass - was one of the first pieces of modern architecture to be built in central Rome since the time of the dictator Benito Mussolini.

Mr Alemanno later conceded that it would be Rome's citizens who would decide whether or not to pull down the museum, saying he planned to hold a referendum on the subject.

"There's a problem of compatibility, the structure is surrounded by baroque buildings and, in that part of the city, any intervention must be in the same style," he said.

"It's not the most important priority but I think some of the building work there has been very invasive."

But despite, or perhaps because, of the controversy the Ara Pacis Museum has proved popular with tourists.

According to Italy's La Repubblica newspaper, some 6,000 people visited the museum in three days in April alone.




SEE ALSO
Rome votes for right-wing mayor
28 Apr 08 |  Europe
Country profile: Italy
06 Feb 08 |  Country profiles

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