Ancient altar plagued by water leaks
Rome - The Museum of the Ara Pacis, a state-of-the-art structure protecting a 2 000-year-old ancient Roman artefact in the centre of the Italian capital, is plagued by water leaks blamed on a lack of maintenance.
Italy has been hit with torrential rains over the past days. The worst was in the island of Sardinia, where 16 people died as a result of flooding. But there were heavy downpours in the rest of the country as well.
In Rome, water seeped in through the Ara Pacis' glass roof, flooding the internal section of the 9 B.C. monument built by Emperor August, and forcing staff to close the museum on the following day.
Conservation experts covered the monument with tarpaulins and drained it with buckets, while floors were mopped up using cloths. The museum, designed by top US architect Richard Mayer and inaugurated in 2006, reopened to the public on Thursday.
According to Rome-based daily Il Messaggero, a Mayer aide who flew to Rome to inspect the leaking roof has concluded that the problem was caused by the lack of maintenance on the seven-year-old structure.
Rome's city council is heavily indebted and has increasingly resorted to private sponsorship deals to fund its restoration projects.
Mayer's work is one of the few examples of top-level contemporary architecture in Rome. It contains a sacrificial altar that Augustus commissioned to celebrate the end of his war campaigns in Spain and Gaul, and also hosts temporary exhibitions. - Sapa-dpa