History recounts that Hadrian loved to walk among the works of art that adorned his villa in Tivoli. Among these were the Drunken Faun in ancient red marble, the Amazons (copies of Greek originals by Phidias and Polyclitus), and the Old Centaur and Young Centaur in gray marble. The latter two statues rank among the most notable items in the Capitoline collection, and have been displayed in the main hall of the Palazzo Nuovo since 1765, when Pope Clement XIII purchased them and donated them to the museum.
The two masterpieces, dating to the second century AD, were discovered in 1736 during excavations conducted by monsignor Furietti in the area of Hadrian’s Villa in Tivoli. Soon after, they were restored by the sculptor Carlo Antonio Napoleoni, and remained for some thirty years in the monsignor’s residence in Monte Citorio until 1765 when Clemente XIII bought them from Cardinal Furietti’s heirs to be displayed in the Capitoline Museum.
The statues are of extremely high technical and artistic quality, and figure among the most significant pieces of ancient sculpture. The CCA’s conservation treatment has returned them to their ancient splendor.
The statues’ exceptional nature, their location in a key area of the Capitoline Museums, and the great delicacy and fascination of the restoration treatment offered an opportunity to transform the traditional “closed for restoration” worksite into an “open” cultural event offering communication and transmission of historical, archaeological, technical and conservation information about the works.
In 2004, at Bilbao, the “Open for Restoration” project received the Keck Award of the IIC, the London-based International Institute of Conservation, for the best public information project on the theme of conservation.
The educational program involved opening of the worksite to the public, guided visits, organization of a photographic, graphic and narrative competition for students, edition of didactics materials and opening of a web site of the project.