Capitoline Museums

Rome, Italy

The Capitoline Museums (Musei Capitolini) are a single museum containing a group of art and archeological museums in Piazza del Campidoglio, on top of the Capitoline Hill. The historic seats of the museums are Palazzo dei Conservatori and Palazzo Nuovo, facing on the central trapezoidal piazza in a plan conceived by Michelangelo Buonarroti in 1536 and executed over a period of more than 400 years.

The history of the museums can be traced to 1471, when Pope Sixtus IV donated a collection of important ancient bronzes to the people of Rome and located them on the Capitoline Hill. Since then, the museums' collection has grown to include a large number of ancient Roman statues, inscriptions, and other artifacts; a collection of medieval and Renaissance art; and collections of jewels, coins, and other items. The museums are owned and operated by the municipality of Rome.

The statue of a mounted rider in the centre of the piazza is of Emperor Marcus Aurelius. It is a copy, the original being housed on-site in the Capitoline museum.

Open to the public in 1734 under Clement XII, the Capitoline Museums are considered the first museum in the world, understood as a place where art could be enjoyed by all and not only by the owners.

The Capitoline Museums are composed of three main buildings surrounding the Piazza del Campidoglio and interlinked by an underground gallery beneath the piazza.

Palazzo Senatorio

Palazzo Senatorio was built in the 12th century and modified according to Michelangelo's designs. It now houses the Roman city hall.

Palazzo dei Conservatori

Palazzo dei Conservatori was built in the mid-16th century and redesigned by Michelangelo with the first use of the giant order column design. The collections here are ancient sculptures, mostly Roman but also Greek and Egyptian.

The second floor of the building is occupied by the Conservator's Apartment, a space now open to the public and housing such famous works as the bronze she-wolf nursing Romulus and Remus, which has become the emblem of Rome. The Conservator's Apartment is distinguished by elaborate interior decorations, including frescoes, stuccos, tapestries, and carved ceilings and doors.

The third floor of the Palazzo dei Conservatori houses the Capitoline Art Gallery, housing the museums' painting and applied art galleries. The Capitoline Coin Cabinet, containing collections of coins, medals, jewels, and jewelry, is located in the attached Palazzo Caffarelli-Clementino.

Palazzo Nuovo

Palazzo Nuovo was built in the 17th century with an identical exterior design to the Palazzo dei Conservatori, which it faces across the palazzo.

Statues, inscriptions, sarcophagi, busts, mosaics, and other ancient Roman artifacts occupy two floors of the Palazzo Nuovo.

In the Hall of the Galatian can also be appreciated the marble statue of the Dying Gaul also called and the statue of Cupid and Psyche. There is also a colossal statue restored as Oceanus, located in the museum courtyard and the statue of Capitoline Venus, from an original by Praxiteles (4th century BC).

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Via delle Tre Pile 1, Rome, Italy
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Founded: 1734
Category: Museums in Italy

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