Italy’s First Holocaust Museum, Already Years Behind Schedule, Could Break Ground Soon

The plan to build the Museo Nazionale della Shoah, the first Holocaust museum in Italy on the site of Benito Mussolini‘s residence and an ancient Jewish catacomb in Rome was initially proposed in 2005 and now, after several rounds of financing and planning delays, the city is footing the $30-million cost of construction, which officials say could begin this summer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports.

“I hope construction begins this summer,” Museo Nazionale della Shoah Foundation president Leone Paserman told JTA. “Of course in Italy, it is always hard to say.”

City funds for the museum’s construction were made available last month, after government-imposed sanctions against municipal spending prevented the project from getting underway when Rome’s City Council approved it earlier last year. Even if construction begins this summer, it will at least two years to complete. The building’s exterior will bear the names of Italian Holocaust victims.

By the time the building is complete Paserman and other members of the museum foundation will need to have secured enough money to run the museum. “We are all hit by the financial crisis,” Paserman told JTA. “But there is great will to get the museum built on the part of the authorities.”

— Benjamin Sutton

(Image courtesy of the Museo Nazionale della Shoah.)