The Capitoline Museums in Rome are the oldest national museum in the world. They are located in the Palazzo Nuovo and the Palazzo dei Conservatori in the Piazza del Campidoglio on top of the Capitol Hill. Apart from the permanent exhibition, the Musei Capitolini also host temporary exhibitions. In October 2013 the Sala dei Filosofi (“Philosopher’s Hall”) in the Palazzo Nuovo was reopened to the public after a long restoration.
Capitoline Museums Rome
Address, opening hours and admission
The address of the Musei Capitolini is Piazza del Campidoglio 1 – 00186 Roma (District: Campitelli). Alternative address: Via del Tempio di Giove. Tel. +39 060608. This is the information number of the city of Rome. Bus: 40, 64, H. Opening Hours: Tuesday-Sunday: 9.00 to 20.00. No new visitors are admitted after 19.00 hrs. Closed: Monday; December 25th; January 1st; May 1st. December 25th and 31st: 9.30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission: 16 Euros (14 Euros with discount) for the Capitoline Museums. There is also a combi-ticket for Capitoline Museums + Centrale Montemartini that costs 17 Euro (15 Euro with discount). Residents in Rome pay 2 Euro less. Discount is given to residents of the European Community over 65 or between 6 and 25 years old. Free for children under 6. On the first Sunday of the month, the Capitoline Museums are free for residents. The Roma Pass is valid. (NB: there is a surcharge when special exhibitions take place).
Exhibitions and special events
- The Torlonia Marbles. Collecting Masterpieces (until February 27, 2022).
- Caesar’s Heritage and the Conquest of Time (until March 27, 2022)
History and description
The Musei Capitolini owe their existence to Pope Sixtus IV, who in 1471 gave the bronze statues of the Lateran to the people of Rome. The Pope’s present consisted of the Spinario, the Camillo, the She-Wolf and the Head of Emperor Constantine with a hand holding a globe.
In subsequent years more and more works, mostly found during excavations, were added to the collection. Its prestige was raised even more when Pope Pius V, who wanted to get rid of the heathen idols that stood in the Vatican, presented the Capitoline Museums with 140 classical sculptures.
In 1654, a number of these statues was moved into Michelangelo‘s Palazzo Nuovo.
The museum was not officially inaugurated until the year 1734. Pope Clement XII did the honors.
Meanwhile Rome kept growing and therefore also the collection of the Capitoline Museums, since more and more excavations took place in more and more areas.
The Capitoline Museums are divided into
- Palazzo Nuovo: In the Palazzo Nuovo the “Hall of the Emperors” is one of the main attractions.
- Palazzo dei Conservatori: Displays the statues given to the museum by Pius V.
- Tabularium: The old public archives of Rome, now a tunnel underneath the Palazzo Senatorio.
- Pinacoteca: Open since 1999, and covering the Late Middle Ages until the beginning of the 18th century.
Highlights Capitoline Museums Rome
Colossus of Constantine
In the courtyard of the Palazzo dei Conservatori there are a number of beautiful statues. The most striking are the enormous foot and head of what must have been a huge statue of Emperor Constantine. The arms, legs and head were made of white marble, while gilded bronze was used for the torso, a process called akrolite. The Colossus of Constantine was more than 12 metres tall and the head alone measured 2.60 metres. The statue was located in the Basilica of Maxentius at the Forum Romanum.
The highlights of the Capitoline Museums Pinacotheque are paintings by masters such as Caravaggio, Guercini and the Carracci brothers.
The Sala Santa Petronella is dominated by a huge painting by Guercino, which has “The Burial of Saint Petronella” as its theme.
In this room there are also two Caravaggio‘s, the “Saint John the Baptist” from 1595 and “The Soothsayer”. “John the Baptist” is depicted completely naked, while caressesing a sheep, which is a rathe runusual portrayal. The second painting shows a gypsy pretending to read someone’s hand but in reality stealing their ring.
In the Sala Pietro da Cortona you can see the famous “Sabine Virgin Robbery”. The painting dates from 1629.
Hall of Philosophers
The Hall of Philosophers is full of copies of busts of Greek poets, politicians and scientists. Originally, these works stood in the homes of wealthy Romans.
The Tabularium is a hallway underneath the Palazzo Senatorio, connecting the Palazzo Nuovo to the Palazzo dei Conservatori. The Tabularium is the ancient public archive of Rome that overlooks the Roman Forum.
The She-Wolf with Romulus and Remus
The famous statue of the She-Wolf feeding Romulus and Remus. The animal itself dates from the 5th century B.C. The two children were only added in 1471. A small copy of the statue is attached to the left side wall of the Palazzo Senatorio.
The original of the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, a copy of which stands in the middle of Piazza del Campidoglio, can be seen in the Museums.
This huge statue with its fountain is located in the courtyard of the Palazzo Nuovo. Originally Marforio was one of the famous talking statues of Rome.
Sala delle Colombe
The “Hall of the Doves” is named after a mosaic from the Villa Adriana. It represents four pigeons very faithfully reproduced around a bowl of water. Probably the maker was a Greek artist called Soso.
Some Famous Statues
Other famous statues are the Dying Gaul (Galaea Morente) and the Spinario (a young athlete trying to take a splinter out of his foot). The Dying Gaul is a copy of a Greek statue from the 3rd century BC. The Spinario is two centuries younger. The Capitoline Venus is so impressive that she got a small niche all to herself.
The Discobolus is partly a copy from the 1st century of the torso of a discus thrower made by Mirone in 460. The French sculptor Pierre-Etienne Monno transformed the original statue into a wounded warrior in the 18th century.
Severus as Hunter
This 3rd century statue shows the Emperor Alexander Severus. The statue refers to a famous statue of Perseus holding up the head of the Medusa he killed. Of the “Medusa” herself there is a bust made by Bernini (room 5 in the Palazzo dei Conservatori).