Martor No. 23 / Year 2018

From Iconoclasm to Museum: Mussolini’s Villa in Rome as a Dictatorial Heritage Site

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Author: Flaminia Bartolini

About the author:
Flaminia Bartolini
PhD Candidate, McDonald Institute for Archeological Research, University of Cambridge
fb282 at cam dot ac dot uk

Pages: 163-173

Keywords: Italian Dictatorship, Fascist legacies, Villa Torlonia, Difficult Heritage, Mussolini.

In the last couple of years, public attitudes towards Fascist material legacies in Italy have been at the centre of a heated debate in the academic world, which has by now grown to involve the press and social media. This paper will look specifically at how this is reflected in a museum display at a heritage site that was once Mussolini’s residence in Rome. The underlying question of this paper is what role museums as heritage sites play in the renegotiation of a problematic past, and whether they can also have an active role in either supporting or challenging the official narrative. As heritage is socially constructed and defined through present circumstances, the narratives of this particular museum reveal a conflicting past as mirrored by the national narrative. The paper also questions whether public perception of this site has changed over time and considers how the recent transformation into a museum signifies a shift from the post-war interpretation, which may or may not reflect a high-level political agenda.

How to cite this article: Bartolini, Flaminia. 2018. “From Iconoclasm to Museum: Mussolini’s Villa in Rome as a Dictatorial Heritage Site.” Martor 23: 163-173. [DOI: 10.57225/martor.2018.23.09]