Rome's museums contain everything from ancient sculpture to modern art, so there is something for everyone to enjoy. In order to appreciate all of the various different kinds of art Rome's museums have to offer, visitors will need more than one day -- perhaps a day per museum of interest. Plan to take your time so you can fully absorb all the amazing world history these museums have on display.
Here is a list of the top museums to check out on your trip to Rome.
This museum on the grounds of the beautiful Villa Borghese Park is known for its fine collection of classical sculptures, including Bernini’s delicate marble of Apollo and Daphne, his determined David and Canova’s marble depiction of a reclining Pauline Bonaparte.
The gallery includes paintings by famed Italians such as Raphael, Caravaggio, Correggio and other master Renaissance painters. Most of the gallery’s artworks were acquired by the nephew of Pope Paul V, Cardinal Scipione Borghese, who used the villa as a summer house in the 17th century.
Spread over several locations, including the Baths of Diocletian, the Palazzo Altemps, the Palazzo Massimo and the Crypta Balbi, the National Roman Museum preserves coins, statues, sarcophagi, earthenware, frescoes, mosaics, jewelry and other relics of Rome from the imperial and Republican periods through medieval times.
Many of the items on display were unearthed from the Roman and Imperial Fora as well as from outposts from the greater Roman Empire.
The MAXXI Museum is Rome’s newest museum. Designed by star architect Zaha Hadid, the MAXXI opened in 2010 in the northern part of Rome and features art from the 21st century.
Works in the MAXXI museum include paintings, photography, and multimedia installations from renowned Italian and international contemporary artists. The museum also contains an architectural archive for significant contributions to architecture from the 20th century to the present.
Founded in 1883, and known in Italian as the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, this modern art museum features work from the 19th and 20th centuries. It houses 1,100 paintings and sculptures, the largest such collection in Italy.
Italian artists, including Giorgio de Chirico, Alberto Burri, and Luigi Pirandello are well represented in the National Gallery’s collection, as are famous international artists such as Goya, Renoir, Van Gogh, and Kandinsky.
The museum itself is a work of art, with exterior architectural friezes by sculptors Luppi, Laurenti and Prini.
Located on the Campidoglio, Rome’s Capitol Hill, the Capitoline Museums contain many treasures from antiquity as well as archeological finds from Rome and its environs.
The Musei Capitolini, as they're known in Italian, were established by Pope Clement XII in 1734, making them the first museums in the world open to the public. The Capitoline is one museum spread out in two buildings: the Palazzo dei Conservatori and the Palazzo Nuovo
Some of the most famous pieces contained within the Capitoline are fragments and a bust from a colossal statue of Constantine, a gigantic equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius and an ancient sculpture of twins Romulus and Remus suckling a She Wolf.
The Capitoline Museums also house displays of ancient coins, sarcophagi, epigraphs and a picture gallery (pinacoteca), which has paintings from Caravaggio, Titian, and Rubens.
In the Palazzo dei Conservatori, visitors will find portrayals of the Punic Wars, inscriptions of Roman magistrates, the foundations of an ancient temple dedicated to Jupiter and statues of athletes, gods and goddesses, warriors and emperors ranging from the days of the Roman Empire to the Baroque period.
In addition to archaeological pieces, there are also paintings and sculptures from medieval, Renaissance and Baroque artists. Works by Caravaggio and Veronese can be found here, along with the famous Medusa sculpted by Bernini.