The Vatican Museums (Sistine Chapel)
The collection of art on display in the Vatican Museums has been gathered together over the last 500 years, beginning with Pope Julius’ acquisition in 1506 of the statue of Laocoön and his Sons, which had been unearthed in a vineyard in Rome. The collection has grown considerably since then, and has become one of the key parts of a visit to Rome. The various galleries and exhibitions that make up the Vatican Museums cover several millennia of art, from Egyptian and Etruscan sculptures to twentieth- and twenty-first century works including modern art by Carlo Levi, amongst many others. The museums are open every day from 9am to 6pm (with last entrance at 4pm). The museums are closed on Sundays, except on the last Sunday of each month when they open for the morning and entry is free. http://mv.vatican.va/3_EN/pages/MV_Home.html (English Website)
One of the most beautiful and famous museums in Rome, the Galleria Borghese contains a superb collection of sculptures and paintings that definitely deserve a visit. The Galleria Borghese (Piazzale Scipione Borghese 5, Tel: 06 32810) is open from Tuesday to Sunday 9 – 7. Tickets cost €8.50 (free to those under 18 and over 60). Guided visits are also available for the cost of an additional €5. These begin in English at 9.10 am, and 11:10, and in Italian at 11:10 and 17:10. Tickets are allocated by the hour for timed visits, and it is important that you book beforehand as if you just turn up; you are unlikely to get in immediately. Call 06 32810 to make a reservation (they speak English).
The Domus Aurea, or Golden House of Nero, is one of Rome’s hidden treasures. Located below ground level immediately adjacent to the Colosseum, this imperial pleasure palace is an architectural wonder and a treasure trove of artwork. Located on Viale della Domus Aurea.
Closed for years to allow for extensive renovations, the Palazzo Barberini is finally open to the public! This stunning palace owes its famous baroque design to the collaborative efforts of two of Italy’s most celebrated sculptors and designers, Bernini and Borromini. Nearly 400 years old, the Barberini is celebrated as much for its architecture as it is for its vast collection of works by some of Italy’s most venerated painters, including Caravaggio, Raphael, Fra Angelico and Pietro da Cortona. Walking Borromini’s spiral staircase or gazing up at Pietro da Cortona’s most prized work “The Triumph of Divine Providence” will make you glad you were one of the first to visit this newly opened museum.The Palazzo Barberini allows reserved entrances every 30 minutes from 8:30 am to 6:30 pm. The museum officially closes at 7:00 pm. The Barberini is closed every Monday as well as January 1, May 1, August 15 and December 25. Children under the age of 5 do not require a ticket. Via delle Quattro Fontane, 13.
The Gallery of Modern Art
Modern Art may not be your first thought when you arrive in Rome, but the impressive Galleria d’Arte Moderna is definitely worth a visit. This collection of neo-classical and modernist art was first opened in 1881 and has been housed in the current building, designed by the architect Cesare Bazzani, since 1915. It has since become the largest collection of modern art in Italy housing over 5,000 paintings and sculptures. It’s open Tuesday – Sunday 8:30am-7:30pm (closed Monday). Admission costs €6.50 (€3.25 concessions). Last entry is 40 minutes before closing.
The Capitoline Museums
The museum, which crowns the Capitoline Hill and surrounds the Piazza del Campidoglio, is well worth the visit. The treasures of the Capitoline Museums include the original version of the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius (the one in the middle of the Piazza is a copy). The famous bronze statue of a she-wolf suckling Romulus and Remus is here, as is Bernini’s Bust of Medusa. The Capitoline Museums are open from 9am-8pm Tuesday – Sunday (they close on Mondays, 1st January, 1st May and 25th December, and open 9am-2pm 24th and 31st December). The ticket-office closes an hour earlier. Tickets to the Capitoline Museums cost €6.50/€4.50 plus €1.50 for entry to exhibitions.
The Ara Pacis
The current structure was designed by the American architect Richard Meier, and opened in 2006. Its design, large, white and blocky, has drawn criticism for failing to blend in with the surrounding area. As well as the Ara Pacis itself, the museum houses a permanent exhibition covering the history and restoration of the altar, as well as several temporary exhibitions. The Ara Pacis is open for visitors from 9.00am-7.00pm (the ticket office closes at 6). It’s closed on Mondays and on 1st January, 1st May and Christmas Day, and opens until 2pm on 24th and 31st December.