The Palatine Museum - History and Facts | History Hit

The Palatine Museum

Rome, Lazio, Italy

The Palatine Museum exhibits ancient finds from the famous Palatine Hill in Rome.

Peta Stamper

21 Apr 2021

About The Palatine Museum

The Palatine Museum (Museo Palatino) on Rome’s Palatine Hill houses a collection of finds from this incredible archaeological site. With artefacts dating back as far as the Middle Palaeolithic era, the Palatine Museum offers a good overview of the area considered to be the birthplace of Rome.

The main exhibits at the Palatine Museum date back to ancient Rome, particularly between the 1st and 4th centuries AD when the Palatine Hill was the best address in the city as home to Rome’s emperors.

The Palatine Museum history

Built in 1868 over the remains of Emperor Domitian’s palace, the original museum was in a former Monastery of the Visitation. Establishment of the Palatine Museum or Antiquarium was the initiative of the archaeologist Alfonso Bartoli, who directed excavations of the Palatine and discovered objects from the site of the Domus Augustana.

The new museum site was constructed over the ancient remains using ruined parts of the demolished Villa Mills of the Farnese family – the great neo-Gothic residence destroyed to continue excavation.

In 1882 and during World War Two, many of the Palatine artefacts were housed in the National Roman Museum or Museo della Terme of Diocletian, and only a small proportion of the original collection was returned as the National Roman Museum wanted to keep and display the most beautiful works. The Ministry of Education – owner of both museums – agreed that visitors to the Palatine are more interested in the ruins themselves rather than a museum.

During the 1990s, the museum was reorganised and rebuilt to mark the Bimillennium of Augustus. The new installations were more user-friendly and divided the collections onto 2 floors.

The Palatine Museum today

Today, explore the ground floor rooms which preserve the site’s original domus, narrating the Palatine Hill’s history back to the origins of Rome until the Principate’s beginning in the 1st century AD. Moving up to the first floor, make sure you do not miss the finds from the age of Augustus, who altered the function and appearance of the hill.

Another highlight of the museum are in Room VII, full of mosaics and intricate paintings from the Neronian Domus Transitoria. Other artefacts on display include incredibly well-preserve statues of different marbles – particularly beautiful is the soft black sculpture of Danaide. You can spend up to an hour enjoying these ancient treasures.

Getting to The Palatine Museum

Situated at the Palatine Hill in Rome’s ancient centre, the easiest way to reach the museum is by Metro line B, alighting at stop Colosseo, a couple of minutes walk away. Otherwise buses 75, 81, 87, 673, 175 and 204 stop at Colosseo, and the number 3 tram.