Palazzo San Felice to host Library of Archaeology and Art History.

Italy’s president Sergio Mattarella on Thursday inaugurated construction works on Rome’s new Library of Archaeology and Art History at Palazzo San Felice, part of the Quirinale complex.

The new library space, made available by Mattarella following his election in 2015, will undergo major renovation works in a project involving the culture ministry and the state property agency.

The vast collection of the Biblioteca di Archeologia e Storia dell’Arte (BiASA), one of Italy’s most prestigious public libraries, will be moved from Palazzo Venezia to the new site on Via della Dataria.

Italy’s only national library dedicated exclusively to art history and archaeology, with around 400,000 volumes, BiASA is the largest of its kind in the world.

Hailing it as “an important moment for the Quirinale and for the city of Rome”, Mattarella said the journey “to carry out this large-scale intervention and to give Rome a new cultural hub” began in December 2017.

“The move to Palazzo San Felice will make the library more accessible to visitors, scholars and researchers from all over the world, helping to promote knowledge and conservation of Italian archaeological and historical-artistic heritage” – culture minister Gennaro Sangiuliano stated – “The new headquarters will be equipped with larger and more modern spaces which will allow the rich literary heritage to be hosted in a more efficient and functional way.”

Architect Mario Botta will convert the 19th century building, which comprises 8,000-sqm of internal and external areas, into a library with “14 km of shelves” to house books and manuscripts relating to art and archaeology.

The new library will include areas designed to host events, exhibitions and concerts as well as a multipurpose room with a transparent roof that can accommodate up to 350 people.

Located not far from the Trevi Fountain, Palazzo San Felice was built in 1860 and until a few years ago was used as accommodation for managers at the Quirinale.

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