The practical value of art has often been debated, especially in the modern era where we are used to assign a utilitarian value to everything. However, there is a place where art has managed a direct and tangible consequence on the life of a community. It is called MAAM. In via Prenestina 913, in an area of the industrial suburbs of Rome, there is the MAAM - Museo dell’Altro e dell’Altrove di Metropoliz, a unique place. The museum is located inside a former slaughterhouse and houses over four hundred artworks, contributed by numerous italian and international artists. Sculptures, street art, and high-impact conceptual works of art. Its peculiarity, however, lies in the fact that it is a lively place. In fact, several families of various nationalities live inside the structure, about two hundreds people.
MAAM is the only inhabited museum in the world, a place where art and life shake hands in the daily life of the people who live here.
The occupation of the abandoned building dates back to March 2009 when "Blocchi Precari Metropolitani" an organization created to claim the right to housing, decided to help numerous homeless families to find one. Thus the museum born. MAAM is like small village, alive and pulsating, with its own streets, common spaces including those dedicated to management assemblies.
The inhabitants themselves take care of MAAM and its artworks. They also take care of the maintenance of spaces and the management of visits. MAAM is an open space that can be visited entirely. Inside is like being in a sort of non-place, to quote the French anthropologist Marc Augé, where the original intended use of the external structure is lacking in favor of a unique relationship between these spaces and those who live there.
The museum comes to life thanks to the anthropologist, artist and director Giorgio de Finis - now the artistic curator of the project, who together with the filmmaker Fabrizio Boni made the documentary Space Metropoliz in 2012. “What we are going to tell is a science fiction story. But it is also a story of coexistence, sharing and political commitment. It is the story of an occupation and an artistic provocation, of a spaceship and a museum" (taken from the presentation of Space Metropoliz).
From this experience comes the desire to create an independent museum where art and life can intersect, complement and protect each other. "Altro" (Other) and "Altrove" (Elsewhere) respectively indicate its inhabitants and the value of diversity given by the various cultures that have met here.
MAAM is a unique place that should be preserved. Unfortunately, however, the museum is part of a series of buildings that the municipality intends to vacate, also due to the strong pressure of the multinational that owns the actual property and which has decided to invest in the area by building apartments.
In order to try to save the cultural wealth that MAAM preserves, it has officially presented its candidacy for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List.