Musei Capitolini - History and Facts | History Hit

Musei Capitolini

Rome, Lazio, Italy

The Musei Capitolini in Rome host a huge wealth of artifacts and exhibits from the ancient, medieval and renaissance periods.

Peta Stamper

31 May 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Musei Capitolini

Musei Capitolini – the Capitoline Museums – stand on the ancient Capitoline Hill in the centre of ancient and modern Rome, and host a huge wealth of artefacts from the ancient, medieval and renaissance periods.

Among Musei Capitolini’s many wonders include collections of classical sculptures and statues, exhibits on ancient mythology, medieval and renaissance artworks as well as many bronzes and portraits.

Comprised of 3 main buildings, namely Palazzo Nuovo, Palazzo dei Conservatori and Palazzo Senatorio, the Musei Capitolini are located near the Roman Forum and a short walk from the Colosseum.

Musei Capitolini history

Part of a plan designed by Michelangelo in 1536, the Musei Capitolini was executed over the next 400 years. However, the museum’s history can be traced back further to Pope Sixtus IV, who donated a large collection of ancient bronzes to the people of Rome in 1471, putting them on the legendary Capitoline Hill.

The collections continued to grow, amassing into a wealth of Roman statues, medieval and Renaissance art, jewellery, coins and other artefacts. In the Musei Capitolini opened in 1734 as the first public museum in the world so not just the owners to enjoy the art.

The 3 buildings comprising the Musei Capitolini were linked by an underground piazza: Palazzo Senatorio was built in the 12th century before being modified to fit Michelangelo’s designs; Palazzo dei Conservatori was built in the mid 16th century and redesigned’ Palazza Nuovo was built in the 17th century to mirror the former.

Musei Capitolini today

Open between 9.30am and 6.30pm everyday, the museum’s incredible ancient and medieval collection of ceramics, jewels and artwork are a must-see stop in Rome, as it their outstanding Renaissance and neo-classical facades. You can buy entry tickets online beforehand or at the counter upon arrival.

Of course, a highlight is the huge equestrian statue of emperor Marcus Aurelius, accompanied by the delicate Capitoline Venus and the colossal figure of Mars in the courtyard.

Current exhibitions include ‘The legacy of Caesar and the conquest of time’, exploring the marble timekeeping and history of Rome from its origins to the imperial age, and ‘The Torlonia Marbles’ which displays the most prestigious private collection of ancient sculptures.

Getting to the Musei Capitolini

Situated on the Capitoline in central Rome, you can get buses 30, 51, 81, 83, 85, 87, 118, 160, 170, 628, C3 and n716 to the bottom of the hill at Ara Coeli. Th number 8 tram also stops nearby at the Venezia.

Note that the Musei Capitolini are within a plaza overlooking the Roman Forum on a steep hill, so take comfortable shoes if walking up.

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