Museum of Musical Instruments Rome

The Museum of Musical Instruments (Museo Nazionale degli Strumenti Musicali) has its seat in the Palazzo Samoggia in Rome. The nucleus of the exhibition is the collection of the famous tenor Evan Gorga (1865-1957). Later, other instruments, such as the renowned “Barberini Harp” were added.

Museum of Musical Instruments Rome

Useful information

Address: Piazza Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, 9/A – Roma. Phone: +39 06 69994251 or 06 69994342. Opening hours: From 09.30 till 19.30. Price: 5 Euros (EU citizens age 18-25: 2,50 Euros).

History and description

Palazzo Samoggia - Museum of Musical Instruments Rome
Palazzo Samoggia and the Museum of Musical Instruments

Evan Gorga was a famous tenor who started his singing career in 1895 and retired only four years later. From that moment on he devoted his entire life to collecting, not just musical instruments, but all kinds of objects including antique weapons, toys and pottery. When he was forced to get rid of a great part of his collection, he decided to keep the musical instruments.

In 1911, during the International Exhibition in Rome, 250 instruments were displayed for the first time. In 1929 Gorga, fearing that otherwise the instruments would end up dispersed, asked the State to seize his collection. Ths State complied and the instruments ended up in various deposits.

In 1949, became owner of the instruments by paying Gorga’s debts. On top of that, they had to pay him an annuity.

It was not until 1949, however, that all the instruments were brought together in the Palazzo Samoggia. The museum itself did not open until 1974, after a three year restoration.

The oldest items in the collection are over 2,000 years old. It has been expanded by new acquisitions. These include a piano built in 1722 by Bartolomeo Cristofori, several 16th century Bavarian bagpipes and the Barberini harp.

Highlights

Barberini Harp

The Barberini Harp was made between 1605 and 1620. It was given to the famous harp player Marco Marazzoli, who, towards the end of his life, returned the instrument to the Barberini family.

The symbol of the Barberini family, the bees, are carved into the body of the instrument.


Bartolomeo Cristofori was the inventor of the pianoforte. The one in the museum is the best preserved one of the still existing ones.

Palazzo Samoggia Rome

Palazzo Samoggia Rome - Portico
The beautiful portico of the Palazzo Samoggia.

The Palazzo Samoggia is located behind the Basilica of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme (go through the gate left of the facade, and follow the path).

Palazzina Capocci Rome
Palazzina Capocci

The Palazzo Samoggia is one of three buildings that used to form the Principe di Piemonte barracks. Each one was named after a heroic grenadier who had died in battle. The names were Samoggia, Capocci and Setti, The Palazzo Setti was destroyed in 1960. The Palazzina Capocci is now the headquarters of a cultural department called MiBAC.

Museum of Musical Instruments, Rome