The Andersen House Museum
In the old times, most visitors used to enter Rome through the north gate at People’s Square (Piazza del Popolo). Many were pilgrims who would then step into some church, and from church to church – But you may have just been stepping out of yet another church, and like not usual sightseeing for a bit, so walk out of the ancient walls into the Flaminio quarter. The Andersen House Museum is about 5 minutes away, and it’s free!
This is where a Norwegian-born family of artists, the Andersens moved in some years after having travelled to Europe from the United States. Hendrik Christian Andersen was, in particular, the most inspired in the family group that included his own brother’s wife and widow, Olivia Cushing. The lady became Andersen’s testator, thus providing means for Hendrik to design this house in Rome, which would also serve him as an art studio.
This 1920s elegant mansion is situated north of the People’s Gate at Flaminio, a mostly residential neighborhood that has developed very much over the past one hundred years, including performing art center Parco della Musica and 21th-century art museum Maxxi, which would enhance your acquaintance with Rome, especially if you are staying at apartments such as Ripetta House, Augusta Terrace House, and Paradiso Penthouse.
Lifelike terracotta and marble busts, and plenty of gigantic full-body plasters and bronzes are arranged in the two large rooms on the ground floor of Villa Helene, which Hendrik named after his own mother. Mother and son used to live upstairs of this studio-gallery, with little of its original furnishing still visible to visitors. The upper level at Villa Helene usually hosts temporary exhibits of artists who express themselves in the same fields as Andersen, sculpture and painting and urban planning.
The artist’s most ambitious project was indeed an entire city devoted to the arts and culture, whose drawings to scale now hang in Villa Helene, with sculptures composing the Fountain of Life, or a massive account of humanity at its greatest heights. You can enjoy a free walk in great sculpture from Tuesdays to Sundays, with few folk around. This is not a major attraction of Rome, yet one that let you glimpse the Eternal City a different way.