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As soon as it opened its doors, Rome’s MAXXI (it stands for National Museum of XXI Century Arts) was the subject of divisive debate. In the UK, architectural critic Ellis Woodman said he had never seen a gallery “that addressed its nominal function with such seeming cynicism”. But that didn’t stop it winning the prestigious Stirling Prize. Based in the city’s Flaminio district, the open ambition from the start was to have a project with the same impact of the Guggenheim Bilbao – a piece of architecture that would pull in the crowds, and not just…



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