Discovered about 1480, the Domus Aurea, Nero's Golden Palace, was the major source of information on ancient Roman painting and decoration for Renaissance artists. Although much has been lost, the rooms occupied by the emperor himself, covering approximately ten thousand square meters, remain largely intact, serving as the substructure of the Baths of Trajan. Salt crystallization, calcium deposits, pollutant crusts, and biological growth obscure the beauty of the decorations and threaten their survival. Lack of knowledge regarding the degree of deterioration increases of the frescoes increases the real risk of their loss. A detailed analytical study of the frescoes and stuccoes in all the rooms in the palace is urgently needed in order to elaborate an appropriate conservation strategy.
Since the Watch
In June 1999, 32 of the 150 palace rooms were opened to the public after a two-decade-long restoration project. Areas of frescoes were cleaned of thick salt deposits, and measures were implemented to control threats from the environment. Nevertheless, since then the Domus Aurea has continued to be plagued by major problems. The site was closed to the public due to concerns about its structural stability in 2001, and after its reopening it was closed again in 2005 and 2008. In March 2010, a large part of a vault above one of the galleries collapsed following a period of heavy rainfall. February 2011