Museums in Rome

Greek temple, Villa BorgheseRome is one of the cradles of European civilization, so it should not surprise you that there are museums for almost every era, epoch, and subject.

Religious Themes

One of the religious theme displays is the Museum of St. Vincent and Anastasius, vicolo dei Modelli 73. There you will find the remains of 22 popes from Sistus V to Leo XIII. The exterior of the church is believed to have been designed by Longhi.

The Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, Piazzale S. Paolo has an extensive collection of tombstones and inscriptions from the Christian cemetery at Ostia, as well as artefacts from the nearby cemetery, which include sarcophagi, architectural pieces, and tombstones, which are exhibited in the cloister.

The Museum of the Souls of the Dead, Lungotevere Prati, next to the Church of Santo Cuore del Suffragio. An unusual display, perhaps not high on many people's lists, but no doubt popular with kids for the bizarre collections. In 1887, the priest Victor Janet began collecting clothes, Bibles, skullcaps, and other items bearing the "firemarked" handprints of the dead, to prove their everlasting presence to the living.

Historical Museums

If your interest is in things historical, there is the Historical Museum of the Grenadiers of Sardinia, Piazza S. Groce. It is a small building, next to the former headquarters built in 1903, but it contains some interesting documents, weapons, and paintings, tracing the history of the regiment back to 1659.

The Historical Museum of Military Vehicles, Military City of Cecchignola 86, viale dell'Esercito, has some of the most interesting displays of motorized vehicles used in wartime, including a Fiat in which King Victor Emmanuel III was driven to the front during World War I.

The Historical Infantry Museum, Piazza S. Croce in Gerusalemme, is one of several museums dedicated to World War events. Established in 1948, the museum boasts a small chapel with a group by sculptor Edmundo Furlan, which portrays Christ on the Cross and Two Infantrymen. It is said to be an extremely well-executed piece, that touches visitors deeply.

Archeology

If you've been bitten by the archeology bug, one of the places you might drop in, is the Museum of Roman Civilization, Piazza G. Angelli, one of the largest and most extensive displays of the life in Rome gone by. Its 59 rooms are filled with reproductions of genuine pieces of Roman life, including warships, an entire apartment, and the Colosseum.

The Capitoline Museum, Piazza del Campidoglio, is a must see, for the exquisite sculptures and other images of Roman life. The ground floor is dedicated to Oriental cultures, the Hall of Philosophers contains period busts of the great thinkers of Rome, the Hall of Faun contains pieces back to 2 BC; and the Hall of Doves is an incredible display of mosaics.

The National Museum of Rome, Via Enrico de Nicola 79, is actually a building that held public baths in the third and fourth centuries. Among its treasures are a beautiful statue from the first Hellenistic age, sarcophagi representing the Three Graces, pieces of a Hebrew sarcophagus decorated with a seven branch candelabra, and fragments from the Tomb of Gaius Sulpicius Platorinus, which was excavated during work on the Tiber embankment.

Science

Science is also represented in such institutions as the Botanical Garden, largo Christina di Svezia 24, which is one of the three most important botanical gardens in Italy. It covers 12 hectares, and has around 8,000 species of plants. There is a very eclectic, and robust collection of naturalized palm, conifer and liliaceous plants, as well as five greenhouses that shelter the more delicate and ethereal specimens such as orchids.

The Museum of Geology (Institute of Geology and Paleontology) houses an amazing collection of natural rock, fossils and minerals. There are 5,000 exhibits in ten cases, and another 2,000 in storage due to lack of space. Among the most fascinating displays are the Belli Collection, donated by Pius IX, a selection of decorative stones, and the Dodwell Collection, which numbers 247 samples of stone from Roman monuments.

Medieval and Modern Art

Medieval and modern museums are also found in good numbers. The National Gallery of Ancient Art, Palazzo Barberini, is far too extensive to list all the departments. Suffice to say that it is bursting with sculpture by Bernini, ceiling frescoes by Andrea Camasci and Andrea Sacchi, paintings by Tintoretto and Titian. Basically this is Italian art. A real must-see.

The National Gallery in Palazzo Corsini, via della Lungara, is another of the museums chock full of Roman art in its various disciplines. Most rooms feature different areas and artists, while room V contains the bedroom of Swedish Queen Christina, showing its lovely frescoes.