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March 30, 2010

On the Radar

Rome moderne

Erected in 13 B.C. to honor Emperor Augustus and excavated by Mussolini in 1937, the intricately carved Ara Pacis (Altar of Peace) has finally found a permanent home: the Museo dell'Ara Pacis, a gleaming glass structure by U.S. architect Richard Meier. His neo-modernist building protects the altar in a climate-controlled chamber and surrounds it with some 14,000 square feet of gallery space; a rooftop café overlooks Augustus' tomb. The museum hasn't exactly been celebrated—one prominent Italian pundit threatened to go on hunger strike if the project wasn't blocked—but it may yet become a masterpiece like the one it houses. Time will tell. At Piazza Augusto Imperatore; 39-06/8205-9127