Ancient statue of Marcus Aurelius on permanent display

The nearly 2,000-year-old bronze equestrian statue of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, one of Rome's most beloved monuments, is now on permanent display in a new, glass wing of the city's Capitoline Museum. City officials on Thursday presented the new exhibition area, which provides a climate-controlled bright shelter for the massive statue.

"This room finally gives the original Marcus Aurelius a place worth of its prestige," Rome's top culture official Gianni Borgna said during the opening ceremony. "The sunlight filters through the glass, as well as the blue of the sky," he said. The statue was removed in 1981 from the center of Michelangelo's Campidoglio, Rome's municipal square, away from heavy pollution and unsettling traffic vibrations.

A copy of the 19-foot-high monument was later placed on the marble pedestal in the center of the square. After years of cleaning and restoration, the monument returned to the Capitoline Museum until city hall authorities okayed the project to glass-in a neighboring garden. "Now the statue shows all of its beauty," Rome Mayor Walter Veltroni said. "It is sheltered and safe." A marble statue of the head of Constantine, one of Rome's greatest leaders, which was dug up in the Roman Forum in July, was also put on display in the new wing, reports the AP. N.U.

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