Roman Museums: From the Ancient World to the 21st Century

Roman Museums

A view of the Palazzo dei Conservatori, one of the Capitoline Museums in Rome, Italy

The diverse history of Rome is well preserved in dozens of museums and galleries across the city. Tourists know Rome for its renowned art institutions such as the Capitoline Museums, the Borghese Gallery, and the Vatican Museums, but students will find that a thriving art scene can be found in even the smallest neighborhoods. A wide range of galleries tucked away on Rome’s winding streets regularly exhibit the latest photography, paintings, video installations, and more. Rome offers art-lovers a compelling counterpoint of ancient relics and contemporary culture – and stumbling across a new collection is all part of the fun.

Read on to discover which museums and galleries you should be sure to visit when you study abroad in Rome.

Capitoline Museums: A Hub for Art History Students

Institutions such as the Capitoline Museums are a haven for students who study Art History in Italy, because they house some of the oldest and most well-preserved statues in the world. Designed by world-famous Michelangelo in the Renaissance, two of the three original buildings are used as museums, including:

  • Palazzo dei Conservatori: Houses mainly ancient Roman sculptures, such as the Capitoline Wolf featuring Romulus and Remus.
  • Palazzo Nuovo: Houses ancient Roman artifacts and statues such as Dying Gaul

With the 1930s-era Galleria Congiunzione also on-site and a fourth Capitoline gallery called the Centrale Montemartini located across town, art history enthusiasts enjoy virtually limitless resources for contemplation and study.

Museo di Roma in Trastevere: A Neighborhood Treasure

The Museo di Roma has been a staple of the Trastevere neighborhood since 1977. Located only a few blocks from John Cabot University’s Guarini campus, students attending university in Rome don’t have to travel far to discover local artists.

The permanent collection of the museum includes paintings, prints, drawings, and watercolors depicting typical aspects of Roman life from the late eighteenth century to the early twentieth century. There are also special exhibits such as the current “World Press Photos,” which features the images that won the prestigious award in photojournalism (until May 22).

MAXXI: Modern Art in an Ancient City

MAXXI (National Museum of the 21st Century Arts) is one of the newest additions to Rome’s skyline, having opened its doors to the public in 2010. Designed by the ground-breaking architect Zaha Hadid, the museum itself is a marvel of contemporary design.

MAXXI has permanent collections of architecture, art, and photography which feature artists from Italy and other countries around the world. Artists featured in the permanent collection include British sculptor Anish Kapoor, contemporary Italian painter Francesco Clemente, and Italian photographer Luigi Ghirri.

Starting in October of 2015, the permanent collection will be free to all visitors. In the mean time, entrance to the collections and exhibits costs €11. Students should be sure to check out the recent exhibit Sue Proprie Mani, which looks at Italian-Albanian relations at the end of WW2, and Local Icons, a contemporary exhibit inspired by the history of Rome.

Museum and Crypt of the Capuchins

Students looking for a museum experience that’s more outside of the box should head on over to Piazza Barberini for a tour of the Capuchin Crypt. Built by monks in 1631, the crypt contains the bones of 3,700 Capuchin friars.

The site is divided into six different underground rooms, where the remains of these friars are arranged and exhibited in unique and eerie patterns on the walls and ceilings. Many of these displays are actually symbolic of epic Christian themes such as good and evil, birth and death, and resurrection. Students earning their Bachelor’s degree in History or Art History might even use the Capuchin crypts as a resource on religion and art in 17th century Italy.

Which museums are you most excited to visit when you study abroad in Italy?

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