People all over the world have created museums to mirror the accumulated cultural heritage. However, a museum per se is a relatively new phenomenon and this phenomenon started exactly here in Rome on the Capitoline Hill. In 1734 the first museum called the Capitoline Museums opened their doors to the public. Since then Rome hasn’t stopped to surprise art-lovers with other museums that gather objects and information from numerous epochs. With its rich background the Eternal City has become an exclusive historic detail provider about its intriguing past and proved that "old" can be beautiful and romantic. The only disadvantage of the Eternal City is this: there are too many museums to visit! In order to understand what the best museums of Rome are we can turn to "Musei in comune" network. This network unites the best museums of the Eternal City. Let's have a look what places exactly are included into this program.
The most important category of museums for tourists in Rome has a sign “Musei in comune”, i.e. Rome City Council museums. Although this list is not full, there are many more museums than there are in the list, it gives you an idea about the best museums of Rome with indisputable historical or archaeological value that can be considered must-see places in the City of Seven Hills.
Despite the fact that Rome is predictably rich in archaeological and art museums, on top of that the city offers you also the following places to visit: scientific, literary, astronomic museums, numerous galleries and antiquariums - small museums containing finds from excavations around a specific area. The list of museums outside the "Musei in comune" system will become the topic of my next article.
Musei Capitoline - the Capitoline Museums - a complex of museums on the Capitoline Hill that include Palazzo dei Conservatori, Palazzo Nuovo, Pinacoteca capitolina, Tabularium. These museums are acknowledged as the first museum in the world and definitely deserve to be in the list of the best museums in Rome.
Centrale Montemartini - a branch of the Capitoline Museums in a new light. Antiques from the Capitoline Museums collections are presented in the atmosphere of a former thermal power plant with the machines left inside to clash the past and the present.
Mercati di Traiano - Museo dei fori imperiali - the Trajan’s Market in the Museum of Imperial Forums is the first place of the trading center in the world.This museum contains exhibitions, but its main purpose is to highlight the design and structure of this Roman construction.
Museo dell’Ara Pacis - the Museums of the Ara Pacis - a rare example of intervention into the area of ancient Rome designed by the American architect opened in 2006. The museum has been a very contradictory building ever since it was built and it divided the Roman citizens either into its lovers or haters.
Museo di scultura antica Giovanni Barracco - Barracco Museum of Antique Sculptures is known for its vast collection of ancient predecessors of Greek and Roman art. Here you can learn about the oldest art styles, such as Assyrian, Cypriot and Egyptian.
Museo della civilta romana - the Museum of the Roman Civilization covers different stages of the ancient Roman civilization. It is founded in 1952 and situated near the Piazza Giovanni Agnelli 10. There are three main sections in the museum: historical, thematic section and model of Imperial Rome section. The museum is large, spacious and has the atmosphere of the ancient Roman art. There are no entrance fees, but it is recommended to reserve the place in advance.
Museo delle mura - the Wall Museum - and archaeological admittance-free museum at the beginning of the Appian way gives you a chance to walk on and around the Aurelian walls, also go up the towers and see a nice view on the Appian way and the surroundings. In addition, it normally has less people than in the central parts of Rome, which can be a nice bonus to visiting this place.
Museo di Casal de’ Pazzi - a prehistoric museum that was built on the spot where pleistocene epoch artefacts were excavated. This geological epoch covers a span between 2 580000 - 11 700 years ago.
Villa di Massenzio - the Villa of Maxentius (312 AC) is a complex of ancient Roman buildings that consists of a palace, mausoleum, circus and Domitian Obelisk.
Museo della Repubblica Romana e della memoria garibaldina - Museum of the Roman Republic and the memory of Garibaldi - a museum dedicated to the Roman Republic of 1849, a period of time that is called Risorgimento - Unification of Italy under the leadership of Garibaldi. The museum is small, informative and has an amazing view on the City of Seven Hills.
Museo di Roma - Museum of Rome - initially the museum was opened during the fascist time and was meant to accumulate the details of truly Roman past, but later this museum became an art museum. It is located in the Piazza Navona and worth visiting especially if you have been to the Eternal City before.
Museo napoleonico - Napoleon’s Museum - a cosy and impressive museum, which is located near the Piazza Navona and 10 mins from Castel Sant'Angelo. It is dedicated to Napoleon Buonaparte and the members of his family. Free admittance.
Galleria d’arte moderna di Roma capitale - the gallery is situated a couple of minutes far from Barberini station. Its good location, cosy atmosphere and not so crowded rooms can be a good place to visit both for Rome newbies and more experienced guests. It is not a very big gallery, but there are works made by prominent artists from the 18-20 centuries.
Museo Pietro Canonica a villa Borghese - the Museum of Pietro Canonca in Villa Borghese - a modest but an interesting place to visit for those who like sculpture. Don’t miss it when you are going to villa Borghese, so much more the same the entrance is free of charge.
Museo di Roma in Trastevere - the Museum of Rome in Trastevere - one more historic museum that can be visited especially if you have plenty of time. Here you can find things and scenes from the life of the ancient Romans and get an idea how life looked like at those times.
Musei di Villa Torlonia - the Museum of Villa Torlonia - this museum is situated inside the park Villa Torlonia and consists of three separate buildings. It’s a good destinations if you want to escape crowds during, say, a hot summer day in Rome. It is meant for history-lovers, those who are into art-deco, beautiful stained glass windows and calm walks in the park. No rush to come here in your first stay in Rome.
Museo di arte contemporanea (MACRO) - the Museum of Contemporary Art in Rome - a museum located in a former industrial plant with untrivial art collections by Italian artists from the 60s till today. The Eternal City has much to offer from the point of view of contemporary art: avant-garde paintings and sculptures and fascinating installations contend for the attention of visitors.
Casa-museo Alberto Moravia - the House-Museum of Alberto Moravia - a museum in Alberto Moravia's apartment on the top floor of Lungotevere della Vittoria 1, where the writer, born in Rome lived from 1963 until 1990. The domestic intimacy, which the place preserves unchanged, offers the public the opportunity to approach one of the most important figures of the European twentieth century.
La ex-Fabbrica, l’Archivio Storico e Museo Birra Peroni a Roma - the ex-Factory, the Historical Archive and Peroni Beer Museum in Rome - the former Peroni Brewery, now part of our industrial archaeological heritage, and the Peroni Beer Historical Archives and Museum in Rome tell the story of a brand that has contributed greatly to the development of the Italian brewing sector. Francesco Peroni started his second brewery in Rome in 1864, the future capital of Italy. The museum structure is located - together with that of the Historical Archive, for a total of 500 square meters - inside the current Peroni Beer Factory. It represents the history and current events of the Company through objects, images, original documents and period films, which highlight the infinite links with the history of Italian costume and society.
Ex mattatoio di Testaccio - the Slaughterhouse of Testaccio - the former slaughterhouse in Rome, currently called Mattaccio di Testaccio, was originally a complex of pavilions used for slaughtering and distributing meat destined for the capital. The slaughterhouse was decommissioned in 1975 and turned into a range of cultural spaces with theaters, rehearsal rooms, photographic studios, multimedia and arts areas, photographic and historical archives - all well integrated in the former slaughterhouse, inside and outside its beautiful brick and travertine pavilions.
Museo Carlo Bilotti, Aranciera di villa Borghese - Carlo Bilotti Museum, Orangery of Villa Borghese - the Villa Borghese’s Orangery, now in the location of the Museo Carlo Bilotti, has had a long and very interesting history. After decades of misuse, followed by a careful restoration, the Orangery is opening to the public as a home for the works of contemporary art that the equally generous and passionate collector Carlo Bilotti chose to give to the city of Rome. During the years in which the works were collected he was in contact with, and often friends with, some of the most important artists of our time. Among the donated pieces are a nucleus of works by the superb painter Giorgio de Chirico, supported by works by Gino Severini, Andy Warhol, Larry Rivers and Giacomo Manzù.
Planetario e Museo Astronomico - the Planetarium and Astronomical Museum - the Planetarium occupies a room of about 300 square meters and is covered by a large dome, which has a diameter of 14 meters and has 100 seats on comfortable ergonomic chairs mounted in concentric rows.
Museo civico di zoologia - the Civic Museum of Zoology - a cultural institution which aims to promote and spread scientific knowledge in the field of biological and natural sciences. The cornerstone of its activity is the conservation of zoological findings which provide important information for the reconstruction of natural history and the conservation of the environment. All collections are carefully preserved and enhanced.
Musei in Comune do not include different exclusive private galleries, which belong to noble families yet are open for the public. Villa Borghese Gallery and Doria Pamphilj Gallery are perfect examples of such museums. They can be considered an absolute must for tourists to see since the art collections in those galleries include the brightest works of the best Italian masters.