Italy’s first Holocaust museum, a modern $30 million facility, is being built on the site of Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini’s former residence in Rome, if the many financial and bureaucratic obstacles it faces do not hinder its construction.
Rome’s City Council approved final plans for the museum last year, but city funding was later blocked by government-imposed financial restrictions on municipal spending, which were later freed up in December.
Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno said final bureaucratic approval from local authorities was expected by the end of January, and that the city is expected to award the construction contract in the spring, Construction Week Online reported.
“It is very important to inaugurate this museum while there are still some survivors alive,” he said.
The museum, designed by architects Luca Zevi and Giorgio Tamburini, will be the first Holocaust museum in Italy, which adopted fiercely anti-Semitic legislation in 1938 during its wartime alliance with Nazi Germany.
Zevi’s mother, Tullia, who previously served as head of the Italian Jewish community, has described the facility as a “black box” that will bear the names of Italian Holocaust victims, as well as contain an archive, library, conference hall and facilities for research and education, according to the publication.
Marcello Pezzetti, leading Holocaust scholars and museum director, has said he wants the museum to “insert the Holocaust in the Italian context into the Holocaust in the European context.”
“After 70 years, we are passing from memory to history, and this museum will be a place to learn history, to train teachers, to educate new generations,” said President of the Museum of the Shoah Foundation, Leone Paserman.
With no further delays, construction is expected to take more than two years, and the new museum will open as early as 2016 or 2017.