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American Academy in Rome - Glocal communities

American Academy in Rome - Glocal communities

Rome has always attracted grand thinkers and artists, partly due to its bombastic past, partly due to the fervent mix of nations and cultures that have rendered, and keep rendering this city so unique. The founders of the American Academy in Rome were convinced that such characteristics were unique and essential to their aim of creating an arts and humanities research centre in Europe.

The Academy was founded in 1894 as the American School of Architecture at Villa Torlonia. After various financial and organizational turbulences it merged with the American School for Classical Studies and was refunded officially as the American Academy in Rome. Naturally such a prestigious institution needed a worthy location, for the purpose of which the famed New York architects McKim, Mead & White were enlisted.

Today the main Academy building is named after the architects and is home to the lively community of the AAR. The main function of the institution is promoting studies in the fields of humanities, art and architecture, reason why it yearly welcomes many fellows and residents to study, work and collaborate within the academy.

The academy was built on the Gianicolo hill when most of it was still farmland, which today makes it a lush green haven above the historical centre of Rome. The premises are impressive, the grand halls of the building are sparsely furnished, giving them a calm sense of homeliness but without ever hinting at hosting more than two or three people at a time; the perfect environment for finding the necessary calm for creating artistic and intellectual masterpieces.

At lunch hour, the dining room fills with all the residents and staff who share their meals created by the academy chefs under the Rome Sustainable Food Project, a brainchild of Alice Waters. The project has greatly improved the cuisine that formerly was sadly “famed for its awfulness” (quote AAR Staff). The main changes include a small vegetable garden, an internship program and a strong focus on education and learning while doing. With this project, the Academy has managed to integrate a basic necessity of a large community in its philosophy of taking advantage of local cultural habits and products in order to create thriving and curious realities.

The Academy yearly hosts over 100 events ranging from seminars, workshops, discussion panels to exhibitions and concerts, the latter often held in the grand Villa Aurelia, a few steps further up the hill. These events are often linked to the residents and fellows who present or discuss their work or illustrate collaborations among themselves or with local or international institutions.

The academy is a privately funded institution, giving it plenty of legroom for creating its own agenda and organizational structure as well as welcoming residents and fellows from the entire world. The academy has in fact a very international flair, with only a portion of the residents being American. Residents and fellows are greatly encouraged to collaborate and interact with local universities, institutions and organizations, in order to create a symbiotic relationship that benefits the artists. 


American Academy in Rome

Visitable when booking a tour on their website

Via Angelo Masina 5

Rome Sustainable Food Project



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