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The 16 Best Museums in Rome, Italy [2023]

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Amar Hussain
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Amar Hussain

Senior Content Contributor

Countries Visited: 63U.S. States Visited: 9

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications incl...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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Keri Stooksbury

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With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now Editor-in-Chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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In a city as historic and famous as Rome, it’s not surprising that it’s home to some of the best museums in Italy and the entire world. From ancient artifacts dating back to the Roman Empire to contemporary art from around the world, there’s no shortage of things to see in the Italian capital.

The Best Museums in Rome

Borghese Gallery and Museum
Image Credit: Borghese Gallery and Museum

Located in the historic Villa Borghese Pinciana, the Borghese Gallery and Museum contains most of the Borgese art collection, which was amassed by the famed Italian family over the course of generations.

The facility is spread across 20 rooms on 2 of the villa’s floors. The ground floor contains mostly ancient antiques from the first, second, and third centuries. This floor is dedicated to sculptures in the classical and neoclassical styles. The other rooms in the facility are dedicated to some of Italy’s masters of art, like Caravaggio, Raphael, and Veronese.

Since the Galleria’s collection is so extensive in and of itself, temporary exhibits aren’t as common here. Cultural events are occasionally held on the grounds throughout the year, though. Some of the museum’s highlights are “Truth Unveiled by Time” and “Apollo and Daphne” by Bernini, “The Deposition” by Raphael, and “Madonna, Child, and Serpent” by Caravaggio.

Admission is free for children under 18, €2 (~$2) for young visitors between 18 and 25, and €13 (~$14) for adults, which can be discounted to €8 (~$8) for the last entry of the day. The museum is open Friday to Sunday and Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. The nearest metro station is Spagna.

  • Address: Piazzale Scipione Borghese, 5, 00197 Roma RM

2. Capitoline Museums

Capitoline Museums
Image Credit: Capitoline Museums

With over 400 statues and numerous other busts, ornate tombs, and mosaic art, the Capitoline Museums comprise one of the most important museums in the city dedicated to Roman history.

Technically, the Capitoline Museums are made up of multiple structures. However, their proximity to Capitoline Hill means they’re often considered a single unit. Though the museum wasn’t open to the public until the 1700s, the origins of the collection began nearly 300 years earlier when a collection of ancient bronze sculptures was donated to the city by the Pope.

The 3 main “wings” of the museum are Palazzo Senatorio, Palazzo dei Conservatori, and Palazzo Nuovo. There’s an additional Palazzo Caffarelli-Clementino, which houses pieces from the museum. Some highlighted pieces in the collection are “Triton,” the “Capitoline Wolf,” and busts of real and mythical figures like Cupid, Psyche, and Augustus.

When purchased online, general admission is €8.50 (~$9) for reduced-fare residents, €10.50 (~$11) for adult residents, €9.50 (~$10) for out-of-town children and other visitors entitled to reduced fares, and €11.50 (~$13) for adults. The museums are open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. The nearest metro station is Colosseo.

  • Address: Piazza del Campidoglio, 1, 00186 Roma RM

3. Centrale Montemartini

Centrale Montemartini
Image Credit: Centrale Montemartini

Originally a thermal-electric plant, Rome’s Centrale Montemartini has been a museum dedicated to Greek and Roman history since 1997.

In fact, one of the most unique things about the structure is how it combines different elements of the city’s past. Many of the old equipment from the structure’s time as a power plant are still in the building, serving as a backdrop for the ancient sculptures and art pieces on display.

Most of the museum’s collection results from 2 archeological digs that took place between the 19th and 20th centuries, a period widely considered the country’s golden age for discovering Roman artifacts. The museum is divided into 3 main sections, organized by topic. Some highlights of the entire collection are the busts of Rome’s emperors and a fresco section showcasing a Roman necropolis.

When purchased online, general admission is €5.50 (~$6) for residents entitled to reduced fares, €6.50 (~$7) for adult residents and out-of-town visitors entitled to reduced tickets, and €7.50 (~$8) for all other adults. The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. The nearest metro station is Garbatella.

  • Address: Via Ostiense, 106, 00154 Roma RM
Doria Pamphili Gallery
Image Credit: Doria Pamphili Gallery

With a collection that’s been growing since the 16th century, the Doria Pamphili Gallery is one of the largest private art facilities in Rome. To this day, the museum is still owned by the original Doria Pammhili family, which was once part of Italy’s nobility.

The facility houses art of all kinds, from furniture to paintings, many of which have been passed down through the family for many generations. These items are displayed in the rooms of the palace that serve as the seat of the facility. Some of these rooms are arranged to show how historic staterooms would typically be furnished.

Others, on the other hand, have been converted into more traditional gallery spaces. In total, there are 13 main exhibit rooms. Some of the collection’s most beloved pieces are “Annunciation” by Filippo Lippi, “Portrait of Andrea Navagero and Agostino Beazzano” by Raphael, and “Salome” by Titian.

Admission is free for children under 12 and €14 (~$15) for everyone else. The museum is open Friday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. The nearest metro station is Barberini or Cavour.

  • Address: Via del Corso, 305, 00186 Roma RM

5. Explora — Museo dei Bambini

Explora
Image Credit: Explora

Explora is one of Rome’s premier spaces for family-friendly fun. The space is primarily aimed at young children and consists of various interactive sets and exhibits to encourage children to learn and interact with the world and their own creativity.

There are 22 different exhibits in the structure that vary in topics from fire safety to sustainable fishing and everything in between. Though the sets are diverse, most are generally connected to science or art.

It’s worth noting that while some of the exhibits offer information in foreign languages, namely English, a few of the facility’s rooms only have written information in Italian. Everyone is welcome in these exhibits, but educational opportunities might be a little more limited. The museum hosts events throughout the year for kids of all ages, which are also primarily held in Italian.

Admission is free for children under a year, €7 (~$7) for children 1 to 3, €8 (~$8) for late-entry and second-entry visits, groups of 15 or more, and all visitors on Thursdays, and €10 (~$11) for children and adults. Readings in the library are free for everyone.

The museum is open Tuesday to Friday from 12 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. and Saturday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. These hours are split into 3 separate entry blocks. The nearest metro station is Flaminio.

  • Address: Via Flaminia, 80/86, 00196 Roma RM

6. MAXXI

MAXXI
Image Credit MUSA via MAXXI

Italy’s national museum of 21st-century art, known officially as the MAXXI, is one of Rome’s most important contemporary art facilities. The structure officially opened to the public in 2010, making it one of the newest museums in Rome, though plans for its grand opening had been put in motion for over a decade.

Though the museum focuses primarily on contemporary artwork, it still houses a permanent collection that grows through commissions, acquisitions, donations, and permanent loans. However, MAXXI frequently hosts temporary exhibits in its main gallery spaces to keep up with the field’s evolution. It also presents art competitions to help up-and-coming artists get their foot in the door.

While art of all kinds is welcome at the museum, the facility’s collection is categorized into 5 main sections: art, architecture, 20th-century pieces, 21st-century pieces, and photography.

Admission is free for children under 14, visitors with disabilities who need a companion, EU tour guides, teachers accompanying groups of 10 or more, EU students, and art or architecture researchers, €15 (~$16) for groups of 12 or more, and €18 (~$19) for adults. The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The nearest tram stop is Flaminia/Reni.

  • Address: Via Guido Reni, 4a, 00196 Roma RM

7. Musei di Villa Torlonia

Musei di Villa Torlonia
Image Credit; Musei di Villa Torlonia

Located on the grounds of a historic and opulent villa, the Musei di Villa Torlonia is a complex of museum structures that showcase Rome’s more recent history and evolution.

The museum is divided into 3 main buildings with exhibits about the Torlonia family that used to live in the villa and local history spanning the early to mid-20th century. Additionally, since the Torlonias were a wealthy family, the museum houses an impressive collection of historical art and antiquities.

Some of the museum’s highlighted pieces are the “Satyr” sculpture by Bartolomeo Cavaceppi, the stained glass “The Swallows” piece by the Picchiarini workshop, and Antonio Canova’s “The Dance of the Phaeacians.” The museum hosts cultural and educational events throughout the year, including guided tours and lectures. Guests are also welcome to explore the villa’s gardens during their visit.

Admission is €4 (~$4) for residents who qualify for reduced fares, €5 (~$5) for full-priced residential tickets and out-of-town visitors who qualify for reduced fares, and €6 (~$6) for adults. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. The nearest metro station is Policlinico.

  • Address: Via Nomentana, 70, 00161 Roma RM

8. Museo dell’Ara Pacis

Museo dellAra Pacis
Image Credit: Museo dell’Ara Pacis

When it opened in 2006, Museo dell’Ara Pacis was considered one of the most significant urban additions to Rome’s city center in decades. The structure, designed by the notable architect Richard Meier, houses ancient artifacts found in and around the city.

The museum’s centerpiece is its namesake, the “Ara Pacis” monument, commissioned by the emperor Augustus in the 1st century B.C.E. Numerous other artifacts, such as busts of Rome’s emperors, are also on display within the building’s exhibit spaces.

The museum presents temporary exhibits on various themes, not just history. These rotating galleries often explore style, photography, and other themes, creating an interesting juxtaposition with the facility’s ancient pieces. Educational events are regularly held here. Many are geared toward students, but others are open to the general public.

Admission is €14.50 (~$15) per person. The museum is open Monday through Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. The nearest metro station is Spagna.

  • Address: Lungotevere in Augusta, 00186 Roma RM

9. Museo delle Mura

Museo delle Mura
Image Credit: Museo delle Mura

Located in the Porta San Sebastiano portion of Rome’s Aurelian Walls, the Museo delle Mura is an archaeological history museum on the Appian Way. Using models, art, ruins, and artifacts, the museum educates visitors about the construction of the Roman Empire.

The museum is divided into 7 main rooms, allowing visitors to explore the walls inside while learning about their history. Since the museum is primarily educational in nature, many of the exhibits are made up of models to show how Rome’s complex roads and urbanization systems were first constructed.

Museo delle Mura doesn’t just focus on ancient history, either. Various rooms show how Rome developed in the years following the Roman Empire, leading to the present day. These gallery rooms showcase the widespread restorations throughout the city, which preserved its history.

The museum is free for all visitors and is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The nearest bus stop is Porta S. Sebastiano.

  • Address: Via di Porta San Sebastiano, 18, 00179 Roma RM

10. Museo di Roma in Trastevere

Museo di Roma in Trastevere
Image Credit: Museo di Roma in Trastevere

Originally called the Museum of Folklore and Roman Poets, the Museo di Roma in Trastevere aims to showcase Rome’s cultural and societal development, specifically in recent history. Using art, photography, life-size models, and other items, the museum can showcase the changes in the day-to-day lives of Rome’s citizens between the 19th and 21st centuries.

The museum highlights costumes, festivals, music, and design and how these creative industries have adapted to the country’s evolution. In particular, the effects of the unification of 1860 and the multiple political changes that have occurred since can be seen in the exhibition areas.

The museum also aims to preserve Rome’s specific dialect of Italian through the conservation of manuscripts written by local poets throughout history. Giuseppe Giochino Belli’s published work makes up a large part of this section of the museum’s collection.

Admission is €5.50 (~$6) for residents who qualify for reduced fares, €6.50 (~$7) for general residents and out-of-town visitors who qualify for reduced fares, and €7.50 (~$8) for out-of-town adults. The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The nearest bus or tram stop is Belli.

  • Address: Piazza di S. Egidio, 1/b, 00153 Roma RM

11. Museo Nazionale del Palazzo di Venezia

Museo Nazionale del Palazzo di Venezia
Image Credit: Museo Nazionale del Palazzo di Venezia

As a former palace residence, the Museo Nazionale del Palazzo di Venezia is considered one of the best representations of an opulent home in Italy between the 15th and 20th centuries.

Notable for its art collection, the museum houses over 3,000 paintings, sculptures, and decorative pieces from the Wurts Collection, which was donated to the state in 1933. The museum is also furnished with antiques that would have been found in an upper-class home throughout history.

One of the most notable sections of the museum is its library. This room houses the national collection of archeological and art history texts, the country’s largest publicly owned collection. Additionally, Italian masters like Giotto, Guido Reni, and Gian Lorenzo Bernini are all represented in the museum through their artwork.

Admission to the museum and the palace’s gardens is free for all visitors. The museum is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. The nearest metro station is Cavour or Colosseo.

  • Address: Via del Plebiscito, 118, 00186 Roma RM

12. Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant’Angelo

Castel SantAngelo
Image Credit: Giulio Gabrieli via Unsplash

The Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant’Angelo, sometimes called the Mausoleum of Hadrian, is one of the most important monuments in Rome.

As its alternate title would indicate, the building was once a mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian and his family, but in the centuries since his death, it’s been used as a castle, a prison, and a defensive fort, particularly when the Pope governed the city.

Today, it’s a museum dedicated to Rome’s history and culture and symbolizes the city. The museum is arranged into 7 different levels, each containing exhibition rooms for the structure’s works of art and artifacts.

Some of the most important pieces housed in the museum are the “Mercy Bell,” “Cavalier d’Arpino,” a painting by Prospero Farinacci, and a statue made in Hadrian’s likeness. Even the museum’s exterior is home to works of art in the forms of the numerous angel statues that surround the structure, thus granting it its official name.

Admission is free for children under 18, €3 (~$3) for EU citizens aged 18 to 25, and €13 (~$14) for everyone else. All fares are waived on the first Sunday of the month. The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. The nearest metro station is Lepanto.

  • Address: Lungotevere Castello, 50, 00193 Roma RM

13. Museo Pietro Canonica

Museo Pietro Canonica
Image Credit: Museo Pietro Canonica

The Museo Pietro Canonica is an art museum dedicated to preserving the life and work of the Italian sculptor who gave the facility its name. Located in the artist’s home and studio space, the museum opened to the public in 1995, nearly 4 decades after his death.

The museum is split into 2 main missions. The first aims to showcase Canonica’s life and the lives of many other Roman citizens during the 20th century. Many of the rooms in the home are furnished with his actual personal effects, and any items that didn’t belong to the artist are authentic pieces from the same period.

The other mission is to showcase his talents as an artist. Many of his pieces are displayed throughout the museum and in his studio. “Donna Franca Florio,” “The Comunicants,” and “Monument to Alpino” stand out as some of the structure’s highlighted sculptures.

Admission is always free. The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The nearest metro station is Flaminio or Spagna.

  • Address: Viale Pietro Canonica, 2, 00197 Roma RM

14. National Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia

National Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia
Image Credit: National Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia

First founded in 1889, the National Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia was part of a country-wide movement celebrating Italy’s pre-Roman history. As one of the most complex and widespread ancient cultures to have inhabited the country, many Etruscan artifacts have been found and collected, especially in the regions around Rome.

As a result, the ever-expanding collection was housed in Villa Giulia. The villa’s numerous exhibit rooms, art pieces, ceremonial items, and day-to-day objects are displayed to help create a comprehensive look at Etruscan culture.

The museum’s terracotta collection is one of its prized exhibits. It includes large structures of a bride and groom, which were used as a monument to honor a couple that had passed away. There are even items from other cultures, like bowls from the Phoenician civilization, which showcase the thriving trade practices of the Etruscan civilization.

Admission is €2 (~$2) for visitors who qualify for reduced fares and €10 (~$11) for all others. Fees are waived on the first Sunday of the month. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. The nearest metro station is Flaminio.

  • Address: Piazzale di Villa Giulia 9, 00196 Roma RM
National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art
Image Credit: National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art

The National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art is housed in what was once a 17th-century monastery, which juxtaposes uniquely with the modern art displayed in the historic facility. The museum prioritizes showcasing contemporary artists, but it still managed to amass a sizable collection throughout its history.

Today, the facility has over 3,000 works of art in various mediums, all created between the late 1800s and the early 1900s. These pieces are part of the original collection, which resulted from various fine arts expositions held around that time.

While most of these pieces are preserved in the museum’s archives, many are still on display. This allows the works of artists like Arturo Dazzi and Giorgio Morandi to be admired. It creates a frame of reference for comparison with the rotating displays from current artists.

Admission is free for children under 18, €2 (~$2) for EU citizens aged 18 to 25, and €10 (~$11) for adults. The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. The nearest metro station is Flaminio.

  • Address: Viale delle Belle Arti, 131, 00197 Roma RM

16. Vatican Museums

Musei Vaticani
Image Credit: Vatican Museums

Though Vatican City is technically an independent country, its location within Rome’s borders is nearly always featured in Roman vacation itineraries. 

The Vatican Museums are among the most-visited places in Vatican City. They house 70,000 artifacts, works of art, manuscripts, and more, though only about a third of these pieces can be displayed at once due to the massive size of the collection. Even to display the items on view to the public, 24 different gallery rooms are needed.

The museum contains pieces from throughout Rome’s history, from the statue “Augustus of Prima Porta” from the first century to the famed 16th-century “Creation of Adam” painting that adorns the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Many of the greatest artists to ever live are represented in the museum, like Vincent van Gogh, Caravaggio, Leonardo da Vinci, and Michelangelo.

Admission is €4 (~$4) for seminary and religious university students and school trip groups, €8 (~$8) for high school and university students, visitors on pilgrimages, and other visitors who qualify for reduced rates, and €17 (~$18) for adults.

The museum is open Monday to Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Friday to Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. The nearest metro station is Ottaviano or Cipro.

  • Address: 00120 Vatican City

How To Get Free or Reduced Admission to Rome Museums

We’ve indicated with each museum whether or not children, students, or seniors receive free or reduced admission. Several other programs offer similar concessions.

The Romapass allows holders to visit many museums and attractions in the greater Rome area. The pass allows access to: Galleria d’Arte Moderna di Roma Capitale, Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica in Galleria Corsini, Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica in Palazzo Barberini, Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, MACRO, MAXXI, and more.

Similarly, the Ticketbar City Pass Rome Tourist Card also grants skip-the-line perks for museums such as the Vatican Museums and the Colosseum.

Qualifying students can purchase the MIC card, which offers free access to 18 of the city’s museums, such as Casa Museo Alberto Moravia, Centrale Montemartini, Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Museo Carlo Bilotti, Aranciera di Villa Borghese, Museo Civico di Zoologia, Museo Napoleonico, Museo Pietro Canonica a Villa Borghese, Museo di Roma, and more.

Participation is subject to change; please verify participating museums and entry conditions before your visit.

Final Thoughts

Clearly, there’s no shortage of museums to see while visiting Rome. From ancient history to contemporary art, there’s a gallery for any visitor in Italy’s capital. With any luck, this list has helped you narrow down your options to choose the museum that best fits your trip to the Eternal City.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are museums free in Rome?

Rome has many museums that offer free admission. Some of these facilities are always free to visit, while others waive their ticket costs on the first Sunday of the month. Some programs bring down ticket costs for certain qualifying guests.

How many museums are in Rome?

With over 120 museums in Rome, it’s one of the most important cultural hubs in the world. While many of these structures focus on the city’s history and art, several smaller galleries offer more diverse museum experiences.

What museum is worth going to in Rome?

Virtually all of Rome’s museums are worth visiting. However, if you have to prioritize which to see first, the Vatican’s museums and the Capitoline often top many lists. Your specific travel needs and what you’d like to accomplish will affect your answer.

What is the most famous spot in Rome?

Rome is full of famous spots that are well worth visiting. The hills of Rome, the Colosseum, and the Trevi Fountain are just a few of the city’s most famous areas. However, there are also many other hidden gems to see while in Rome.

Amar Hussain's image

About Amar Hussain

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications including Forbes, the Huffington Post, and more.

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