Terme di Diocleziano. Fotografare il Museo Nazionale Romano

The advent of photography marked a revolutionary chapter in the documentation of cultural heritage, tracing its roots back to the Mission Heliographique of 1851. Spearheaded by Prosper Mérimée, a renowned writer and archaeologist serving as France’s General Inspector of Historic Monuments, photography quickly became a vital tool for cultural preservation. This practice offered authors not just a medium to capture and present required landscapes, environments, and locales in an effective manner, but also a canvas for personal exploration and expression, marrying technical prowess with personal poetics.


This exhibit highlights the exceptional talent of the Rome University of Fine Arts (RUFA) photography students, with a focus on the Baths of Diocletian—a site of historical grandeur within the National Roman Museum. In a special commission by the ICCD, these emerging photographers embarked on an extensive project to capture the essence of cultural heritage through their lenses. Each photograph is a testament to the immersive experience and interpretive vision the students brought to this venture, documenting the enduring legacy of ancient Rome.


The museum opened its doors, presenting the rare chance to explore the Baths’ Grand Halls, the serene Cloister of Michelangelo, and the diverse array of rooms within the historic complex. A focal point of the exhibit is the vivid photographic record of a momentous occasion—the initial clearing of Halls I-V for a major restoration endeavor. This gave the photography students the valuable chance to document these venerable spaces in their bare form, recording their architectural beauty under the natural light of day and the calm of night.


The exhibition not only adheres to the rigorous demands of technical and methodological precision required for such a task but also ventures into experimental territories. This blend of approaches results in a compelling, evocative, and uniquely personal depiction of the captured sites.


This initiative marks the second installment of an ongoing collaboration between the Central Institute for Catalogue and Documentation and the Rome University of Fine Arts. Each year, a new class embarks on documenting a museum or cultural institution, culminating in an exhibition and a publication by the ICCD, enriching the cultural landscape.


By situating this year’s exhibition at Palazzo Altemps, we are embarking on a new chapter of this project, aspiring to involve all four venues of the National Roman Museum in the future.


Giorgio Di Noto

RUFA Lecturer – Rome University of Fine Arts

Chiara Giobbe

Head of Palazzo Altemps


The Baths of Diocletian

Featuring the work of RUFA Photography Course Students:

Armando Egidi, Andrea Ferretti, Alice Fincato, Alessandra Florea, Sabina Ismailova, Guido Leòn, Ludovica Lucciola, Luca Nacca, Sara Petrillo, Mirko Pizzichini, Aurora Santilli, Sara Scognamiglio, Maria Teresa Tenaglia, Elisa Tripepi.

Curated by Giorgio Di Noto and Chiara Giobbe