The Jewish Museum of Rome is situated in the basement of the Great Synagogue of Rome and offers both information on the Jewish presence in Rome since the second century BCE and a large collection of works of art produced by the Jewish community.
Following the unification of Italy in 1870, the Jews were granted citizenship of Italy. As a result of agreement between the Jewish Community and the city authorities the Roman Ghetto was demolished towards the end of the 19th Century. The building that housed the Ghetto synagogue which, in fact, contained five synagogues representing different traditions, was torn down in 1908 but its fixed furnishings including holy arches and thrones were saved. Also, in 1875, the city embarked on an ambitious programme to build up embankments along the River Tiber to provide protection from flooding, including of the area formerly occupied by the Ghetto. The Great Synagogue was constructed in the former Ghetto area, close to the river, and was completed in 1904.
The museum was established in 1960. It was initially set up in a room behind the Torah ark of the Great Synagogue. In 1980 the staircase leading to the museum was decorated with stained glass by the artist Eva Fischer. To permit expansion the museum was moved to the basement of the Great Synagogue next to the Spanish Synagogue and officially opened in 2005. This meant replacing other facilities, such as a gym, a theatre and meeting rooms.
The art collection in the museum has largely been donated by members of the Community. It reflects the long history of Jews in Rome and, in particular, the Ghetto period (1555–1870) when all Jews from Rome and surrounding areas were forced to live in a small area. The collection includes around 900 liturgical and ceremonial textiles, illuminated parchments, around 100 marble pieces and about 400 pieces of silverwork. Also displayed are some of the many documents held in the Community’s archives.References:
The Palazzo Colonna is a palatial block of buildings built in part over ruins of an old Roman Serapeum, and has belonged to the prestigious Colonna family for over twenty generations.
The first part of the palace dates from the 13th century, and tradition holds that the building hosted Dante in his visit to Rome. The first documentary mention notes that the property hosted Cardinal Giovanni and Giacomo Colonna in the 13th century. It was also home to Cardinal Oddone Colonna before he ascended to the papacy as Martin V (1417–1431).
With his passing, the palace was sacked during feuds, and the main property passed into the hands of the Della Rovere family. It returned to the Colonna family when Marcantonio I Colonna married Lucrezia Gara Franciotti Della Rovere, the niece of pope Julius II. The Colonna"s alliance to the Habsburg power, likely protected the palace from looting during the Sack of Rome (1527).
Starting with Filippo Colonna (1578–1639) many changes have refurbished and create a unitary complex around a central garden. Architects including Girolamo Rainaldi and Paolo Marucelli labored on specific projects. Only in the 17th and 18th centuries were the main facades completed. Much of this design was completed by Antonio del Grande (including the grand gallery), and Girolamo Fontana (decoration of gallery). In the 18th century, the long low facade designed by Nicola Michetti with later additions by Paolo Posi with taller corner blocks (facing Piazza Apostoli) was constructed recalls earlier structures resembling a fortification.
The main gallery (completed 1703) and the masterful Colonna art collection was acquired after 1650 by both the cardinal Girolamo I Colonna and his nephew the Connestabile Lorenzo Onofrio Colonna and includes works by Lorenzo Monaco, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Palma the Elder, Salviati, Bronzino, Tintoretto, Pietro da Cortona, Annibale Carracci (painting of The Beaneater), Guercino, Francesco Albani, Muziano and Guido Reni. Ceiling frescoes by Filippo Gherardi, Giovanni Coli, Sebastiano Ricci, and Giuseppe Bartolomeo Chiari celebrate the role of Marcantonio II Colonna in the battle of Lepanto (1571). The gallery is open to the public on Saturday mornings.
The older wing of the complex known as the Princess Isabelle"s apartments, but once housing Martin V"s library and palace, contains frescoes by Pinturicchio, Antonio Tempesta, Crescenzio Onofri, Giacinto Gimignani, and Carlo Cesi. It contains a collection of landscapes and genre scenes by painters like Gaspard Dughet, Caspar Van Wittel (Vanvitelli), and Jan Brueghel the Elder.
Along with the possessions of the Doria-Pamphilij and Pallavacini-Rospigliosi families, this is one of the largest private art collections in Rome.