Rome has a vast number of museums. At times, it can be tricky to pick out the must-sees from the must avoids.
If you’re into Renaissance masterpieces, ancient archaeological finds or 21st-century photography, our guide will help you make the right choice.
Let’s begin exploring all the museums and art galleries out there –
MODERN & CONTEMPORARY ART
National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art has a majestic entrance and when you pass through it, you’ll discover an everlasting collection of compilations that are as grand as the structure itself.
Delve into the works of the Van Gogh, Mondrian, Klimt, Degas, Pollock and Rodin, and consistently happening popular temporary exhibitions as well.
Designed by architect Zaha Hadid, the MAXXI is an eccentric space both inside and out. It induces maximum crowd because of its giant intersecting concrete segments and flowing pathways that gently lift its visitors through this modern bay.
Dig deep into the thought-provoking and colorful exhibitions from the modern art world hosted by the MAXXI.
Head to the MACRO that has been located across two sites in Rome. It seeks to bring in contemporary art to the Romanians and to strengthen bonds with the local community through exhibitions and educational programs.
The multi-level rooftop garden or exclusive gift shops are built on the site of an abandoned Peroni beer factory so don’t miss the chance to visit Via Nizza.
Museo di Roma
Encounter the late eighteenth and early twentieth century’s collection of popular life that existed in Rome through paintings and photographs. You can skip the outdated diorama of shabby mannequins depicting scenes of Roman life from times gone by.
Spend most of your time visiting the exhibition spaces which often features photography since the paintings and photographs are worth seeing.
Museo Carlo Bilotti
The eponymous entrepreneur has gifted 23 works to the city that are placed in Museo Carlo Bilotti, located in the orangery of Villa Borghese. Discover pieces by Andy Warhol, Larry Rivers and Giacomo Manzù in a group of 18 masterpieces by Italian surrealist Giorgio de Chirico.
Learn the history of Rome through these marvelous pieces as you will have a chance to visit the place with FREE entry.
Musei di Villa Torlonia
In the 18th century, the Torlonia noble family purchased Musei di Villa Torlonia that offers hundreds of years of history to explore. Mussolini used the Casino Nobile (the main building) as his residence, but now it houses the majority of the museum pieces.
While the Casino dei Principi focuses on the arts and the Casina delle Civette (House of the Owls) showcases the stained-glass windows that are worth seeing.
Museo Pietro Canonica
While roaming around the city, halt at Museo Pietro Canonica to glance at the life and works of the Italian sculptor, painter and opera composer, Pietro Canonica. This museum also offers flick through marbles, bronze models, and original sketches,
Nestled in Villa Borghese, you will see the artist’s workshop and a private apartment too.
HISTORICAL / ANCIENT ROME
In ancient Rome, the Capitoline Hill was the center of political and religious life. Most of the exhibitions were either excavated in Rome or painted, sculpted and created by artists who lived in the city. If you are an admirer of the Roman history, head to the second floor of the Palazzo dei Conservatori to get a glimpse of the famous bronze she-wolf nursing Romulus and Remus.
Unlike other museums, the Centrale Montemartini is a fusion of the industrial and the classical both. You’ll find a selection of marbles from the Capitoline Collection in the museum.
This place is a great space where you can see the old and new coming together perfectly, be there to experience it all in a couple of Euros.
Around 123 AD, Castel Sant’Angelo was originally built as a mausoleum for Roman emperor Hadrian. It was then turned into a military fortress, and later on converted to a castle by the Vatican State, who used it as a prison and decadent residence.
Walk around the museum to explore the different pieces of history that are on display at reasonable rates.
National Etruscan Museum
A native of ancient Etruria, the Etruscans were contemporaries of the early Romans and exercised their influence on originating Rome. They were conquered by their neighbors afterwards and then assimilated into the Roman culture. Much of their history has been lost due to the conquest.
Walk through the National Etruscan Museum in Villa Giulia to unravel some of the mystery where you will find most essential artifacts from that era.
Palazzo Altemps, one location of the National Roman Museum that is home to collections of antiquities. It earlier belonged to various noble families of Rome. Sculpted by the Italian sculptors displays Greek gods and Egyptian deities in the 15th century.
National Gallery of Ancient Art
The National Gallery of Ancient Art was established at Palazzo Corsini unestablished the collection grew, the gallery expanded to a second site at Palazzo Barberini. At present, from the 13the century onwards, these galleries express the story of Italian painting.
Take a stroll and look around for witnessing the masterpieces by Raphael, Caravaggio, and Bernini.
Museo di Roma
Museo di Roma showcases the history of the city from the Middle Age through the nineteenth century. Palazzo Braschi is a Neoclassical building that is wonderfully decorated and hosts a range of exhibitions throughout the year.
Doria Pamphilj Gallery
Located on the prime real estate of Via del Corso, the impressive Palazzo Doria Pamphilj houses an equally magnificent art collection. You’ll find the pieces by Caravaggio, Bernini, Raphael and more between the intricate murals and ornate gold-plated décor.
Bernini has the ability to transform a substantial chunk of marble into the soft flesh of Persephone that yields to make a grip of Pluto, the reason enough to visit Galleria Borghese. Additionally, Galleria Borghese has a stunning collection of Bernini marbles.
You will be amazed to see the collection of affaello, Caravaggio, Tiziano and Canova masterpieces. Need to have a booking in advance.
Almost every inch of the interior of Villa Farnesina has been decorated with elaborate frescoes since the 16th century. The most famous amongst these are created by Raphael which you’ll find on the ground floor.
Indulge in the Renaissance at Villa Farnesina.
The Vatican Museums have the masterpieces of painting, sculpture and other works of art collected by the popes through the centuries. You’ll find several other monumental works of art, such as the Sistine Chapel, the Gallery of Maps, the Chapel of Beato Angelico, the Raphael Rooms and Loggia and the Borgia Apartment.
Palazzo di Venezia
National Museum of the Palazzo di Venezia has initially been the residence of cardinals and late popes. Now it’s home to an eclectic collection of pieces from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance that you must explore.
Moreover, you can see paintings, ceramics, furniture, jewelry, marbles, bronze and wooden sculptures, all at one place.
The Napoleonic Museum may small in size but its collection is marvelous. The Museum displays artworks, family souvenirs, antiques and objects associated with the Bonaparte family. These are all donated to the city of Rome by Count Giuseppe Primoli, the great-grandson of Joseph Bonaparte.
Museo Nazionale d’Arte Orientale
Museo Nazionale d’Arte Orientale (the Museum of Oriental Art) was opened in 1958. It has expanded his collection from the Middle and the Far East. Nowadays the Japanese collection alone has over 2200 pieces including many Edo period woodblock prints.
Chiostro del Bramante
Chiostro del Bramante was designed by Donato Bramante which has the chiostro or cloister that was once the center of a Renaissance monastery. After careful restoration, this elegant structure is now used for some of the city’s best and most popular exhibitions.
Complesso del Vittoriano
Complesso del Vittoriano is named after Vittorio Emanuele II, the first King of Italy, which is not only an imposing monument but also home to some exhibition spaces. You’ll find high profile exhibitions that appeal to both tourists and locals, such as the recent Edward Hopper or Barbie exhibitions. Visit the place to learn more about it.
Palazzo Cipolla is located on the main shopping street of Via del Corso, and also home to Fondazione Roma Museo that organizes exhibitions of international interest. Works by Banksy, Andy Warhol and Norman Rockwell have all been showcased here in the recent years.
Palazzo delle Esposizioni has occupied about 10,000 square meters of space, which is more than just a space for the latest touring art exhibition. It also takes account of cinema, auditorium, function halls, café, restaurant, and bookshop.
Scuderie del Quirinale
The Palazzo del Quirinale is situated atop the Quirinal Hill, which is now the official residence to the President. It was earliar home to the Italian monarchy and a Papal residence. Today, the Scuderie del Quirinale spaces exhibitions of Botticelli, Rembrandt, Frida Khalo and more.
Museo dell’Ara Pacis
The Ara Pacis Museum is designed by American architect Richard Meier, which is a common anomaly in the otherwise old historical center of Rome. It is built of steel, limestone and ample amounts of glass, that houses an ornate 1st-century BC altar of peace and hosts stimulating exhibitions from all corners of the art world.
Localised on the Pincian Hill near Villa Borghese is Villa Medici, now home to the French Academy in Rome. Do not miss to take information about special tours, night openings, concerts, and cinema screenings, as well as art exhibitions, simply follow their social media.
Baths of Diocletian
Baths of Diocletian is built between 298 and 306 AD that could accommodate up to 3000 people. The ruins, however, are now a part of one of the locations of the National Roman Museum. You can take in various collections from ancient and imperial Rome, including historical inscriptions, artifacts, statues, and sculptures.
Dei Fori Imperiali
This museum is located in the ruins of Trajan’s Market, that houses artifacts found in the Imperial Forums. Modern stone fills in the gaps between original decorative fragments and architectural pieces to create an impression of how the site once was.
Museo delle Mura
The Aurelian Walls were Rome’s defense against invasions and attacks which were built in the 3rd century AD. You can walk along one of the best-preserved stretches of the wall and then check out the exhibits which explain the methods used for their construction.
Della Via Ostiense
Museo della Via Ostiense was originally one of the ancient gates of the city but is now home to a small museum that focuses on Rome’s link to the seaport of Ostia Antica. You’ll come across a few exhibitions that won’t keep you for too so spend some time admiring the view across the neighborhood from the castle-like turrets.
Keats-Shelley Memorial House
Keats-Shelley Memorial House commemorates the poets John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley and houses an extensive collection of pieces from the Romantic Age. Piazza di Spagna lies a hidden paradise for literary lovers among the designer shops. It now incorporates one of the most excellent libraries of Romantic literature, handwritten letters, a lock of Shelley’s hair and other treasures.
Casa di Goethe
The German poet, novelist, and playwright, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe came to Italy searching for the classical art of ancient Greece and Rome during the 18th century. He stayed at the Casa di Goethe during his two years in Rome who now displays his writings, sketches, letters and diary entries.
National Museum of Musical Instruments
This museum once belonged to Evangelista Gorga, a successful tenor who sang for Puccini in the first performance of La Bohème in 1896. It displays the majority of the 3,000 instruments. The collection also includes the ornately decorated Barberini Harp made between 1605 and 1620.