General approach
Antonio Ruberti
Coordinator of the Municipal Commission
for Rome's City of Science

In order to draw up the guidelines for the project involving Rome's City of Science, a commission of experts from the world of science, together with representatives of the City government and the Superintendent's Office, was formed under a resolution of the Mayor's Cabinet.
The central effort of the Commission has been the formulation of general guidelines for the organization of a project on the basis of the most successful initiatives undertaken in this field, in this way drawing on the storehouse of knowledge which has accumulated during the years of delay. Steps have also been taken to give a specific identity to the project to be implemented in Rome: a structure which must, in some way, reflect the City.
Study has been made of the idea of a project in step with the new times which await us, but also possessing its own distinguishing features.
As a result, three objectives are considered essential for the City of Science.
The goal of the structure should be the dissemination of scientific culture, meaning that it must house not only memory and history, but also change and evolution. In other words, not a museum in the traditional sense, a set of collections, but rather a showcase for technological innovation.
This is the balance which must be pursued, drawing inspiration from a cultural vision of science and technology, without neglecting - precisely because culture is involved - the historical and critical dimension.
And the approach must also take into account the on-going development toward a society characterized a high degree of innovation, meaning that the underlying concept must give precedence, in a certain sense, to infrastructures over structures. The balance between warehouses, workshops and exposition space must guarantee a significant degree of flexibility. The structure must be designed within a framework of dynamism and continuous adjustment.
Finally, given that we are moving towards a society characterized not only by a high degree of innovation, but also by completely new methods for transmitting knowledge, as well as by the changes generated by advances in communications technology, the structure must make all-encompassing use of the new languages. To this end, plans should include computer and multimedia laboratories, plus experimentation with new languages, in that we must remain aware of the transition under way towards this new universe of communications. In other words, steps must be taken to monitor and support the system's capacity for adaptation.
For that matter, the activities must be formulated in light of what the new communications technology already offers for the transmission and reception, both local and remote, information and knowledge. In particular, therefore, sites for connection with telematic networks must be planned.
As regards the objective of finding a distinguishing characteristic, work should begin from the fact that the City of Science is to be built in Rome, a setting in which magnificent artifacts of construction technology are preserved. In this respect, an effort should be made to reach an understanding which is not limited to the dimension of art, but extends to science and technology. These considerations, which should be analyzed and decided on in collaboration with the Superintendent's Office, will offer the museum an opportunity for a deep-rooted cultural interaction with the City, creating a sharply distinguishing characteristic.
The sectors
Underlying the choice of sectors is the need to complement the existing heritage while keeping in step with the on-going development of science and technology.
For this reason we have listed the following sectors in the contract tender:
- space and its exploration, but also its utilization through telecommunications and the observation of the earth, its environment and its resources;
- the structure of material, at its various levels, from crystals to atoms and molecules, to nuclear matter and quarks, with the presentation of theories and means of investigation, seen in both their scientific and technological aspects,
- the formation, structure and functioning of eco-systems, from an analysis of the components to an examination of the levels of organization, with a focus on bio-diversity;
- molecular biology, through a presentation of the basic concepts and applications of molecular genetics, biochemistry and techniques of cellular and genetic engineering; the goal is to gain an understanding of the process of evolution as well as innovations in the fields of health care, pharmaceuticals, food and agriculture, and the environment; consideration will also be given to the ethical, social and legal problems raised by knowledge and modification of genetic resources and the commercialization of new products;
- the neuro-sciences, from cerebral mechanisms to artificial intelligence, in particular as regards the physics of the mind and models of consciousness, on the one hand, and information technology and communications, on the other; here again, consideration will be given to the problems raised by the virtual realm and the boundary between the concrete and the abstract;
- in order to establish a cultural connection with the City and its history, the fundamental aspects of the history of the systems (aqueducts, baths, roads, agricultural organization etc.) and the buildings (the Pantheon, the Coliseum, St. Peter's etc.) which characterized Roman civilization; for this portion, a framework of cooperation and complementary efforts should be established with the Office of the Superintendent of Cultural Resources of Rome and with the Museum of Roman Civilization.
Integration and cooperation with other structures in Rome
The City of Science must integrate itself with the existing municipal structures designed for the dissemination of scientific culture, such as the Civic Museum of Zoology, the Planetarium, the Museum of Mathematics and the Young People's City.
The structure must also cooperate with Rome's existing museums, starting with the university facilities, as well as the universities themselves and research institutes, plus all the centers which perform activities of scientific and technological research. An effort must be made to create a city network of science museums, which, without interfering with the specific make-up of the different institutions and their independence, makes possible a virtual connection which favors a broader use and exploitation of their resources.
With its infrastructures, its exposition spaces and its multimedia production center, the City of Science can become a gathering point and a hub for collaboration.
It must also serve as a European and international connection for initiatives tied to the on-going development of scientific thought and the boundaries of technological innovation, as well as their cultural, social and economic impact.
In addition to this type of connection, the City of Science must also establish working relations with schools and the media. These entities, together with museum institutions, form the triangle whose balanced development along all three sides, together with its reciprocal interaction, determines the effectiveness of initial and on-going processes of scientific education. Contact with schools and the media will allow the City of Science to function as the natural juncture for such interaction. And it also provides a natural forum, placed on the ridge separating the scientific system from the mass public, for addressing the problems involved in relations between science and society: relations which play an important role in terms of the future, and which society as a whole should rightfully influence.
The City of Science is both a cultural adventure and a challenge that we are called on to meet.