The Study Abroad Student’s Guide to Museums and Galleries in Rome

John Cabot University in Rome

Tourists descend a magnificent spiral staircase in The Vatican Museums.

For centuries, Rome has been one of the most influential artistic centers in the world. Think Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Botticelli, Raphael…from the Renaissance to the Baroque to the Rococo and Neoclassical eras, art movements and artists who rocked the world found their home in Rome.

When you visit Rome as a study abroad student, you’ll have access to the city’s wondrous art collections through lectures held on site, and with friends during your off-time. And whether you prefer pristine classical masterpieces or contemporary urban art, Rome has a gallery, museum, or exhibit to suit any taste or interest.

Use this guide to plan your next outing – or find out where you might go next with your JCU class!

1. The Vatican Museums: A Majestic Must-See for Study Abroad Students

What’s a trip to Rome without visiting Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam in the Sistine Chapel? Study abroad programs in Rome give students first-hand looks at this historic work (and many more) through access to places like The Vatican Museums.

1400 rooms of chapels and galleries fill the wings of what was once the Vatican Palace, showcasing one of the largest art collections in the world. Art history students and their peers often visit the Vatican Museums to enrich their study of a particular painter or period – or simply to feel inspired by standing among masterpieces created by famous artists from Da Vinci to Van Gogh.

2. The Borghese Galleries: Fine Art from the Renaissance and Beyond

The Borghese Galleries are renowned as the “queen of all private art collections.” Founded by Cardinal Scipione Borghese in the 16th century, the gallery was originally housed at his residence near St. Peter’s Basilica. When you study abroad, you can visit its now central location in Rome’s Villa Borghese park.

A JCU art student re-enacts the Renaissance masterpiece “Girl with a Pearl Earring” during a fundraising event

A JCU art student re-enacts the Renaissance masterpiece “Girl with a Pearl Earring” during a fundraising event

Students visiting the Borghese begin in its ground-level sculpture gallery, with intricate Renaissance-era floor mosaics and over-the-top Roman frescos. The second level is an immense painting gallery, including Caravaggio masterpieces like Young Bacchus, Boy with a Basket of Fruit, and David with the Head of Goliath – in which students can discover a hidden self-portrait of the artist himself.

3. Galleria Nazionale: See Modern Masterpieces While You Study Abroad in Rome

The Galleria Nazionale D’Arte Moderna offers a dramatic change of scene for international students in Italy who are making the rounds of museums in Rome. Founded in 1883 (quite recent, as far as Italian history is concerned) this 75-room gallery houses the largest collection of works by 19th and 20th-century Italian artists in the world.

The Galleria Nazionale D’Arte Moderna is Rome’s biggest modern art gallery

The Galleria Nazionale D’Arte Moderna is Rome’s biggest modern art gallery

A departure from the Renaissance and Baroque art you’ll find around every corner in Rome, the Galleria Nazionale hosts work by Monet, Rodin, and Jackson Pollack, among many others.

4. The Maxxi: Rome’s Newest Contemporary Art Museum

The Maxxi Museum of 21st Century Art is Italy’s only national museum dedicated entirely to contemporary art. Boasting 27,000m2 of work from the most influential artists of our time, the Maxxi’s building itself is also worth a look. Its curving structure of jutting glass, steel, and concrete truly stands out in Rome’s Baroque and Neoclassical architectural landscape.

A view of the Maxxi, designed by famous Iraqui-British architect Zaha Hadid

A view of the Maxxi, designed by famous Iraqui-British architect Zaha Hadid

5. A Bonus for Students who Study Abroad in Italy: Street Art

As the birthplace of the term “graffiti” (from the Italian for graffiare, “to scratch”) how could we not mention the special access study abroad students have to Italy’s spectacular street art?

Roman street artist Agostino Iacuri is often commissioned for his monumental, brightly colored murals. Blu is another master graffiti-ist who under the cover of night (and a cloak of anonymity – no one knows the artist’s identity), glazes the walls of Rome’s buildings with awe-inspiring works of art. Students can check out one of the latest examples of Blu’s work at the corner of Via delle Conce and Via del Porto fluviale – in Rome’s south-central Testaccio neighborhood. The building’s 48 windows have all been turned into faces!

JCU students pose in front of some of Rome’s colorful graffiti.

JCU students pose in front of some of Rome’s colorful graffiti.

If you take the opportunity to study abroad in Italy’s most artistic and cosmopolitan city, access to world-class art will be all around you – whether in galleries or inscribed on the very walls of the city itself!

Would you like to study abroad in Rome? Visit the John Cabot University website for more information about our programs.

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