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On the occasion of the reopening of the Domus Aurea to the public – with a renewed lighting system that magnifies the spaces and decorations and with a new entrance for the public – Nero’s residence hosts for the first time an exhibition in the Octagonal Hall: “Raphael and the Domus Aurea. The invention of grotesques”. Conceived for the celebrations of the 500th anniversary of Raphael Sanzio’s death, the exceptional immersive exhibition is dedicated to the rediscovery of ancient painting, buried in the “caves” of the forgotten ruins of Nero’s immense imperial palace.

Visit the dedicated website here (in Italian):

The project, curated by Vincenzo Farinella and Alfonsina Russo with Stefano Borghini and Alessandro D’Alessio, promoted by Parco archeologico del Colosseo and produced by Electa, intends to narrate the exceptional story of the rediscovery of ancient paintings buried in the “caves” of Nero’s original Domus Aurea. This story began around 1480, when a number of painters, including Pinturicchio, Filippino Lippi and Signorelli, descended into the hollows of the Oppian hill – known as the caves – to go, by torchlight, to admire the pictorial decorations of ancient Roman rooms.

The exhibition will take place in the Octagonal Hall, a true masterpiece of imperial Roman architecture, and in the five adjoining rooms, as well as in the Rooms of Achilles at Skyros and Hector and Andromache, which are still richly frescoed and where traces of the so-called “grotesques” can be admired.

The multimedia language alternates between immersive videomapping reconstructing Raphael’s works, animations, digital scenographies telling anecdotes about the artists of the 16th century, generative art and morphing, archives and digital collages of grotesque and surrealist-inspired decorative elements.

The interactive and multimedia exhibition design is by the Milan-based Interaction and Exhibit Design studio Dotdotdot.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue published by Electa, which traces the rediscovery of the Domus Aurea and the invention of grotesques thanks to Raphael’s extraordinary impulse.