Sala 1 is a non-profit center for contemporary art located in the Pontifical Sanctuary of the Holy Stairs in Rome, next to San Giovanni Laterano Cathedral. An ex-basilica restored as an art center in 1976 by priest-sculptor Tito Amodei, Sala 1's specific goal is to show aspects of contemporary art, especially sculpture, not easilly programmed for commercial galleries and Rome's museums. In a unique situation as part of the Vatican since its inception, Sala 1 has been in the vanguard for bringing hundreds of international exhibitions, performances, architecture, contemporary dance and music to Rome, often for the first time. Under the direction of Mary Angela Schroth, an American curator, and together with a group of young art historians, this center enjoys unlimited independence in its activity.
Highlights include "Moscow:Third Rome", Italy's first look at the Russian artists of the perestroika, in collaboration with Viktor Misiano and Giuliano Gori; "Halal" featuring major Israeli artists in collaboration with the Israel Museum and Arturo Schwartz; "Affinities", the first view of South African art (including the debut of William Kentridge) organized for the 1993 Venice Biennale. In 1996, Mary Angela Schroth conceived and curated the first retrospective for the French artist ORLAN, and AFRICA COMICS at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 2006. The musician James Taylor chose the space for a special private concert (Sony Records) to introduce his "Hour Glass" album in 2000. Schroth curated both Iraq and Bangladesh Pavilions at the 2011 Venice Biennale. The gallery is co-founder of the annual festival FOTOGRAFIA in Rome. The space is currently collaborating with the Vatican Museums for the conservation of the Scala Santa, adjacent to the space.