MAXXI nearing completion in Rome

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With awful pictures of the human and cultural tragedy in Italy’s Abruzzo region filling the media in the wake of Monday’s devastating earthquake, now might be a good moment to add some inspiring images that look forward to a highly anticipated cultural event in Rome. MAXXI, the National Museum of 21st Century Arts -- ’21' corresponds to the Roman numerals ‘XXI’ in the museum’s name -- is currently completing construction on Via Guido Reni, north of Vatican City.

The $200-million art and architecture museum is a bit behind schedule. The site was chosen in 1998, and an anticipated 2009 opening has been pushed back to an as-yet unspecified date next year. (Programs in nearby temporary exhibition spaces have begun.) But it’s pictures of the remarkable, 228,000-square-foot new building designed by London-based architect Zaha Hadid that set the imagination spinning.

MAXXI’s website has some. But for a terrific inside look at what is in store, visit the blog C-Monster: There you’ll find a slew of compelling pictures from a recent tour of the construction site.

-- Christopher Knight