Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel
The most impressive and complex museum in the world is also one of the biggest. The Vatican Museums originated as a group of sculptures collected by Pope Julius II (1503-1513). The popes were among the first sovereigns who opened the art collections of their palaces to the public thus promoting knowledge of art history and culture. As seen today, the Vatican Museums are a complex of different pontifical museums and galleries that began under the patronage of the popes Clement XIV (1769-1774) and Pius VI (1775-1799), and that today includes at least 11 main sections (and the total itinerary would cover more than 7 Kilometers) plus the Sistine, and the visit of the whole complex would therefore require a couple of days! We will concentrate of the main galleries which are spectacular for their fresco and stucco decorations, not to mention the works displayed.
The Sistine Chapel is one of the most celebrated artworks in the world not only for the frescos by Ghirlandaio, Perugino, Botticelli and Rosselli on the side walls, but particularly for those made by Michelangelo on the ceiling and the altar wall. The teological project is so complex that only a serious professional guide may really make it clear to the occasional tourist.
The origin of the museum is set in 1471 when Pope Sixtus IV donated a collection of bronze statues to the City: this is therefore considered the oldest museum in Europe, although was opened to the general public only in 1734 under Clement XII. This museum gives you also the chance to climb on the (only and real) Capitol Hill, to admire the architecture of Michelangelo, to enjoy a wonderful vista of the Roman Forum, and of course to see the many sections of this Museum like the marble statues, bronze statues, frescoes, tapestries, the lapidary gallery and finally the picture gallery specially focused on Italian painters of the 1500 and 1600. Recently, a large glass-walled room was built out of the covering of the Roman Garden to exhibit the original of the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, previously located in Piazza del Campidoglio.
Housed in the wonderful villa built by Flaminio Ponzio for the cardinal Scipione Borghese, nephew of the Pope Paul V, the collection is one of the best selection of 1500 and 1600 paintings you may find in Europe in a relatively small museum : Peter Paul Rubens, Sandro Botticelli, Raffaello Santi (Raphael), Tiziano Vecellio (Titian), Domenichino, Caravaggio and many others are here.
The gallery displays also four masterpieces of the baroque sculptures, an interesting collection of ancient marble statues and sarcophagi and finally the world famous “Pauline” Bonaparte-Borghese made by Canova. To us this is one of the most attractive picture gallery in Rome although the statues and the architecture itself are interesting as well.
The spectatular collection of more than 400 paintings is still today the private collection of the Doria Pamphilj family and, still today, housed at the first floor of the “palazzo” that the family has been owning for the last … 500 years! Therefore, not only we can see the many paintings of the collection, but also admire the architecture and decorations of this building that was remodeled in the different sections during the centuries, like the famous Mirror Gallery of the early 1700.
The “crowd” of painters includes not only Italians like Mattia Preti, Domenichino, Carracci, Raffaello, Tiziano, but some Flemish like Jan Breughel and Herman van Swanevelt, Spanish like Diego Velasquez, and French like Gaspard Doughet and Claude Lorrain.
With the election of cardinal Lorenzo Corsini to the throne of Peter (he chose the name of Clement XII in 1730) the family moved from Florence to Rome and bought the renaissance Riario Palace which in the previos century was the residence of Christine the Queen of Sweden (her bedroom is still there). So the ancient palazzo was restructured and enlarged by the architect Ferdinando Fuga and this elegant early 1700 mansion houses today an interesting picture gallery opened to the public.
The collection includes paintings by Caravaggio, Rubens, Van Dyck, Ribera, Frà Angelico, Gentileschi, along with many other interesting contemporaries.
Discover the most up-to-date contemporary art museums in Rome!
MAXXI, the National Museum of XXI Century Arts
is the first Italian national institution devoted to contemporary creativity . Awarded with the prestigious STIRLING PRIZE 2010 and located in Rome’s Flaminio district – a stone’s throw from Piazza del Popolo – MAXXI is a major architectural work designed by Zaha Hadid featuring innovative and spectacular forms. Conceived as the Italian most prominent centre of contemporary arts and architecture the building offers a wide variety of activities – exhibitions, workshops, conferences, shows, projections, educational projects – reflecting its vocation as a place for the conservation and exhibition of its collections. As an innovative laboratory for cultural experimentation, research and study, the collection and the exhibitions intend to highlight the most recent developments in art focusing therefore on the aesthetic contents of our time. The temporary exhibitions offer visitors ever different opportunities for fruition and research: Gallery 1 on the ground floor houses 20th century exhibitions while those concerning the architecture of the 21st century are installed in Gallery 2 on the first floor.
Once a large industrial complex built at the beginning of the 20th century, MACRO (Museo d’Arte Contemporanea di Roma) is the municipality museum of contemporary art in Rome and a dynamic centre of cultural activity. Set in the neighbourood of Porta Pia and Villa Borghese park and opened to the public all year round, six days a week, MACRO is a point of reference for Rome’s contemporary art community. Inspired by the constant flux of Contemporary Art, the french architect Odille Decq’s new wing strikes for its dynamic balance between innovation and the surrounding urban context: large glass panels open onto the exhibition halls revealing the interaction between contemporary art and the city.The building hosts passages to better articulate the presence of the district – into the museum. A real jewel of contemporary architecture MACRO’s permanent collection offers a selection of some of the most significant expressions characterizing the Italian art scene since the 1960s.