The Best Museums in Rome

As a city with a long history of artistic expression and the birthplace of some of the most celebrated and talented artists in history, it’s no surprise that Rome is home to some of the best galleries and museums in the world. From traditional art from Renaissance greats to some of the most cutting edge modern art being made today, here are the best museums in the wonderful city of Rome, most of which feature as common field trip destinations at universities in Rome.

The Capitoline Museums

The creation of the Capitoline Museums has been traced back to 1471, making it the world’s oldest national museum. With one of Italy’s finest collections of classical sculpture, the museum is home to the iconic Lupa capitolina (Capitoline Wolf). If you wish to gain a better understanding of the many layers of Roman history, you cannot miss seeing this collection!

The Vatican Museums

Most people tend to head straight for Michelangelo’s famed “Sistine Chapel” but the richness of the collection, one of the largest in the world, makes the Vatican Museums a breathtaking place to spend the day.

The National Roman Museum

If you’re a fan of ancient Roman culture then you’ll absolutely adore the wide and sprawling National Roman Museum. The museum is spread out over several locations in the city of Rome, including the Baths of Diocletian, the Palazzo Altemps, the Palazzo Massimo, and the Crypta Balbi. In its hallowed halls you’ll find everything from coins and statues to the occasional sarcophagus, fresco painting, and jewelry. The artifacts in the museum date anywhere from the Imperial and Republican times to the Middle Ages.

Maxxi, the National Museum of Art from the 21st Century

The Maxxi, first and foremost, is a building with some of the most truly avant-garde architecture you’ve ever seen – a crazy slathering of glass, steel, curves and sharp edges, created by  architect is Zaha Hadid, known for her outrageous creations. Moving through the bizarre ramps and bridges of the museum, you’ll find works of art no less unique, with some of the most interesting contemporary pieces being made today.

Museo Nazionale dell’Alto Medioevo

If you’re obsessed with all of the lore and objects surrounding the mysterious and tumultuous period dubbed the “dark ages,” you should check out the Museo Nazionale dell’Alto Medioevo. The museum is a sprawling metropolis of amazing relics of yore, featuring beautifully decorated and bejewelled weapons like swords and spears, intricately and beautifully woven tapestries, and many more lustrous objects that will have you rethinking why it was called the “dark ages.”

Galleria Borghese

The Galleria Borghese is home to a multitude of gorgeous classical sculptures, many acquired by the nephew of Pope Paul V. The beautiful and famous sculptures housed here include works by Bernini, such as Apollo and Daphne. It also features paintings by Raphael, Coreggio and various other masters of Renaissance painting.  Remember that this is a very popular museum and reservations are required.

National Gallery of Modern Art

The Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, as it’s known in Italian, features a wealth of famous works from the 19th and 20th centuries. The gallery’s sizeable national collection includes treasured Italian artists such as Fausto Pirandello and Alberto Burri. The museum also houses works by more famous painters such as Mirò, Van Gogh and even Kandinsky. A must see for any fan of modern art.

Whether you prefer the stunningly avant-garde, the staunchly classical or something in between, Rome certainly has you covered. Those who have chosen to study abroad in Rome and become immersed in the stimulating community of international students in Italy should definitely make the time to enrich their consciousness by visiting as many of these museums as possible.

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