Museo Nazionale Romano, Rome

4.5 out of 5 stars 25 Reviews

Piazza dei Cinquecento, 67 06 39967700

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  • Sculptures From the First Floor
    Sculptures From the First Floor
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    Museo PALAZZO MASSIMO - I. Introduction.

    by breughel Updated Jan 11, 2015

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    This palace close to the Diocletian's Baths was built in 1887 for Cardinal/Prince Massimiliano Massimo and housed a college run by the Jesuits. It was bought by the Italian Government and transformed in a museum which opened in 1998 as the seat of the Museo Nationale Romano, which formerly was headquartered in the nearby Baths of Diocletian.
    The PALAZZO MASSIMO ALLE TERME is the most important of the 4 sites among which are split the various buildings who constitute the Museo Nazionale Romano.
    It is also the best and I really do recommend the visit to all who have some taste for antics. It is very comfortable museum with no lines, at least when I was there in December.

    Palazzo Massimo holds Ancient Roman art (sculpture, frescos and mosaics) distributed over three floors. This collection contains celebrated examples of Roman art dating from the Republic to the late Empire, as well as several original Greek works discovered during excavations in the Gardens of Sallust. Very famous are the bronze statues of the "Boxer" (pic. 1) and the "Prince" and the statue (pic. 2) of Emperor August Pontifex (in all schoolbooks when I was a kid). I will come back on some of the highlights of this museum.
    Impressive is the head of Socrate (pic. 3) found during the construction of the Victor Emmanuel II monument.

    In the basement are the numismatic and jewellery collections (pic.4). The numismatic collection is rated as the best Roman coin collection in the world.

    Combined ticket for Palazzo Massimo, Terme di Diocleziano, Palazzo Altemps, Crypta Balbi, valid during 3 days. THIS COMBINED TICKET FOR 4 MUSEUMS VALID 3 DAYS IS A REAL BARGAIN.

    Palazzo Massimo - the Palazzo Massimo - Emperor August Pontifex. Palazzo Massimo - Socrate Palazzo Massimo  - jewellery. Palazzo Massimo - courtyard.
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    PALAZZO MASSIMO II-Fascinating bronze statues.

    by breughel Updated Jan 11, 2015

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    There are in the Museum Palazzo Massimo alle Terme two large bronze statues, among the most beautiful of the antiquity.
    The "Pugilatore" resting pugilist or "boxer" is the ancient, most extraordinary, most attractive statue I saw these ten last years.
    I turned and turned around the resting boxer who expresses in such realistic way the tiredness and the suffering of the fight. The wounds of his face are distinctively shown on the bronze. I noted the protection of hands and forearms by leather gloves made of straps binding the four fingers and leaving the thumb free. They are of a clearer colour because they had been rubbed in the past by people who considered this statue as a good-luck charm "portafortuna".
    Don't try that now; there is an alarm system on the statue.

    Some steps further stands another remarkable bronze statue “the Hellenistic Prince" (pic.4). This is maybe king Attalus II of Pergamon or could also be a Roman wishing to be presented as a Greek prince.

    The two statues of the Hellenistic period (2nd c. before J.C.) were found in 1885 at the Terme of Constantine. The boxer was well preserved because buried in fine sand. An old photograph shows the statue being digged out (pic.3). It is told that the assistants were struck when this somewhat frightening athlete appeared after a rest of almost thousand years.
    These two bronzes are an assemblage of different parts produced by the lost wax technique, fused separately and subsequently welded together.
    DON’T LEAVE ROME WITHOUT HAVING SEEN THESE STATUES.

    Palazza Massimo - Palazza Massimo - Palazza Massimo - Digging out the Palazza Massimo -
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    PALAZZO MASSIMO. III - Mosaics and frescoes.

    by breughel Updated Jan 11, 2015

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    If you like mosaics and have time - there is so much to see in Rome - go to the second floor of the museum where is on display an impressive collection of mosaics, frescoes and stucco from ancient villas in and around Rome.
    Interesting is the evolution from the mosaic pavements from the mostly monochrome and simple geometric motifs during the Republic period to the figurative polychrome scenes of the late Antique period.
    Mosaic decoration was not reserved for pavements but was used for walls and vaults in rooms, fountains, nymphaea and grottoes. Remarkable is the mosaic decoration, representing Hercules, of the so-called "nymphaeum" of Anzio, an ornamental fountain of a villa on the coast.
    As what concerns frescoes there are complete examples found in villas of the ancient Rome.

    There is until 30/03/2008 a special exhibition "Rosso Pompeiano" with a large survey of the golden age of Roman paintings. There are about a hundred panels of the National Archaeological Museum of Naples. They were detached from the walls of the buildings of the Vesuvian towns, a.o. Pompei.
    The characteristic colour "Pompeian red" is typical of the ancient painting. It consists of cinnabar (mercury sulphide). Originally it was used with parsimony, later, under the Roman Empire, entire walls were painted with it to show richness.

    Palazzo Massimo - Nymphaeum of Anzio. Palazzo Massimo - Mosaic from villa Ruffinella Palazzo Massimo - Mosaic with Gorgone. Palazzo Massimo - Room of Farnesina villa. Palazzo Massimo - Rosso Pompeiano.
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    PALAZZO ALTEMPS - Museo Nationale Romano.

    by breughel Updated Jan 11, 2015

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    In this Palazzo from Cardinal Altemps, from the late Renaissance, is on display an important collection of antique sculptures belonging to the "Museo Nationale Romano".
    The Museo Nationale Romano Altemps is located about 100 m north of the Piazza Navona.
    The most famous part of the collection was given by the family Boncompagni Ludovisi.
    The sculptures belong to the Hellenistic, Roman republican and imperial periods as well as from the baroque periods.

    The amateurs of antique sculptures will be interested by the explanations (Italian and English) about the restoration work on these sculptures which most often reached us in pieces and were also often Roman copies of Greek sculptures.
    This museum shows also Egyptian statues as the cult of Isis was practised in Roma.

    The most striking statue is that of the Galate committing suicide with his sword after having killed his wife to avoid her falling in hands of the enemy.
    There is also a beautiful statue of the Aphrodite (Venus) of the temple on the Greek island Cnidos. The original, work of Praxiteles, of this nude figure seeking to cover herself was very popular in the Greek and Roman world. Many copies exist of the original.
    A very famous Roman sarcophagus with Battle Scene modelled from a single block of marble is shown in this museum. All details of Roman weapons and uniforms are very well preserved.

    When visiting the Piazza Navona it is worthwhile to visit (1 hour) this museum. As the ticket is combined with the Museum of Palazzo Massimo (near Termini station) it is good choice if you are an amateur of Greek and Roman art.

    Palazzo Altemps - Galate committing suicide. Palazzo Altemps - Aphrodite of Cnidos. Palazzo Altemps - Museo Nationale Romano. Palazzo Altemps - Courtyard.
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    Pallazzo Massimo alle Terme: WIP 9/28/13

    by TooTallFinn24 Updated Sep 28, 2013

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    The National Museum of Rome was so near our hotel and it had been recommended in the Roma Ticket that it made sense to see it. The museum it turns out is actually a series of four museums spread over Rome. The one we went to is the Pallazo Massimo alle Terme which holds the majority of the collection of the items in the National Museum.

    Entering it at about 11 am on a weekday there were no lines at all. Inside it was also not crowded making seeing the exhibits more manageable and easy to take pictures.

    The building itself was for years a Jesuit College. It was purchased by the Italian government and in 1981 the palace was restored to hold the majority of the collection of the items in the National Museum. The museum focuses on both items dating back to 1870 Rome as well as many special collections that date back thousands of years.

    The Pallazzo Massimo consists of three floors and a basement and is designed in a Neo Renaissance style. The ground floor of the building generally contains items from Greece that were either part of previous collections or found there since 1870.

    The first floor contains mainly of statues with a few sculptures. The most prominent of these are the Lancellotti Discobolus (Discus Thrower), the Maiden of Antium and the Hermaphroditus Asleep, as well as magnificent sarcophagi such as the Sarcophagus of Portonaccio, with a battle scene carved in high relief.

    The second floor includes many mosaics and fresco walls that are intended to represent different styles of Roman dwellings over the years. These included frescoes from the Santa Maria Church in Via Lata. Many of the exhibits are representations of how rooms appeared hundreds and even thousands of years ago.

    My least favorite room in the museum was the basement. There were extensive of coins, jewelry, belts, and other items. The Grottarossa Mummy is also housed here.

    Sculptures From the First Floor Museum Front Entrance

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    Terme di Diocleziano (Museo Nazionale Romano).

    by breughel Updated May 18, 2013

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    The traveler who leaves the station of the Termini has only to cross the piazza dei Cinquencento, with the terminal of the buses, to find himself plunged in the baths of Diocletian. These are part of the Museo Nazionale Romano.

    The Diocletian's Baths - Terme di Diocleziano, build around 300 AD, were the largest and most sumptuous of the imperial baths and remained in use until the aqueducts that fed them were cut by the Goths in 537. They were the grandest of the public baths and are similar in size and plan to those of Caracalla. The Baths of Diocletian accommodated 3,000 bathers; they are well preserved because various parts were converted later to ecclesiastical or other use.
    The basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli was built in the tepidarium of the baths and the church of San Bernardo alle Terme is located in an old circular tower of the perimeter wall of the baths.
    In the main hall and the octagonal aula, was installed the Museo Nazionale Romano in 1889.

    Important changes happened at the Diocletian's Baths these last ten years. The Terme are closed for restoration works but can be seen from outside.
    The collections of the Museo Nazionale Romano have been distributed over 4 places:
    Museo dei Terme di Diocleziano, next to the baths and including the Michelangelo Cloister (Proto history of the Latium and epigraphy).
    Museo Palazzo Massimo (on the other side of the street) Ancient Roman art (sculptures and fresco's),
    Museo Palazzo Altemps (near piazza Navona, ref. my tip)
    Crypta Balbi (near piazza Venezia)

    Terme di Diocleziano Terme di Diocleziano - garden. Terme di Diocleziano - fountain in the garden.
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    PALAZZO MASSIMO IV - Copying the Greek.

    by breughel Updated May 18, 2013

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    After the military conquest of Greece and the import of works of art, the Greek statuary became much appreciated in Rome. Collectors first competed for the originals and in a second stage (2nd - 1st c. BC) centres of artistic production were developed in Greece to respond to the demands of the Roman upper class. These workshops are called "Neo-Attic" and copied the celebrated classical art of the 5th - 4th c. BC. Later these workshops migrated to Italy.

    It is thanks to this copying of Greek art that we have nowadays excellent copies of great art works of which the originals have disappeared.
    The Palazzo Massimo has on show a number of ancient (2 c. B.C - 2 c. A.D) replicas of celebrated original Greek statues. Well known are the Aphrodite of Menophantos who declared it was a replica of the "Cnidian Aphrodite" from the sculptor Praxiteles. Famous are also the "Discobolos" a copy of the one of Mirone and the "Sleeping Hermaphrodite".

    Open 9 - 19.45 h, closed on Monday, 1/01 & 25/12.
    Price (2013): Combined ticket for Palazzo Massimo, Terme di Diocleziano, Palazzo Altemps, Crypta Balbi, valid during 3 days: 7 €, reduced 3,50 €, free for EU citizens less than 18 or more than 65 years old.
    THIS COMBINED TICKET FOR 4 MUSEUMS VALID 3 DAYS IS A REAL BARGAIN.

    Palazzo Massimo - Aphrodite by Menophantos Palazzo Massimo - Discobolos of Mirone Palazzo Massimo - Sleeping Hermaphrodite.
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    PALAZZO MASSIMO. - Mosaics on 2nd floor.

    by breughel Written Apr 22, 2012

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    After an absence of a few years we went back to the Museo Nazionale Romano at the Palazzo Massimo, not only to escape the rain (April 2012 is the coldest month in Rome since 30 years) but to admire again extraordinary works of art from the 2nd c. BC - 4th c. AD. We started with the second floor "mosaics and frescoes" which I did already describe in a previous review.

    We stood in admiration for this mosaic with a portrait of Dionysos from the 3rd c. AD found on the Via Flaminia.
    The mosaic measures about 50 x 50 cm so that the small pieces of mosaic of the portrait are only a few millimeters wide!

    (PS. I saw that VT member Iblat also admired this mosaic!)

    Mosaic with portrait of Dionysos (detail). Mosaic with portrait of Dionysos.
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    Palazzo Massimo alle Terme: Second floor

    by iblatt Updated Sep 29, 2011

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    No doubt, one of the highlights of the museum in Palazzo Massimo alle Terme is the rich collection of original frescos from ancient Roman villas, on display on the second floor.

    This was the first time I saw whole rooms decorated wall-to-wall with well preserved colorful frescos from ancient Roman times, such as the summer triclinium of Livia's villa (see photo). This splendid fresco, discovered in 1863 in a semi-subterranean room of the villa, shows flowers, fruit trees and birds on a sky-blue background spreading continuously along the four walls of the room. Other excellently preserved frescos were recovered from the Villa Farnesina (see photos).

    Spending some time in these rooms to take in all this beauty all around me really succeeded in recreating the ambience of a Roman aristocrat's villa.

    Frescos of Villa Livia's triclinium Frescos from Villa Farnesina Mosaic, Palazzo Massimo alle Terme Frescos, Villa Farnesina Mosaics, Palazzo Massimo alle Terme
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    Palazzo Massimo alle Terme: Introduction

    by iblatt Updated Sep 29, 2011

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    The visit to this museum was one of the highlights of my last visit to Rome. This is the main building of the Rome archaeological museum, and encompasses the periods from the 2nd century BC (late Republican) to 5th century AD. The objects are arranged in a very clear and didactic order, and are displayed in the best viewing conditions, lighting etc. There are interesting explanations in English (and in Italian), telling the story of the artwork and the period.

    The archaeological museum of Rome was founded in 1889, intended to house the important ancient items found while constructing new roads and neighborhoods in the city of Rome. It used to be in the Baths of Diocletianus and the cloisters of Santa Maria degli Angeli, across the road from Termini, but space there got too small to house the newer additions to the museum's collection: Items discovered underground, which the Italian State got possession of according to new legislation, and also a few important private collections. The museum holdings were arranged in four historical buildings in Rome, and for headquarters the Palazzo Massimo alle Terme was chosen, a 19th century palazzo once used as training college for Jesuit priests, built by priest Massimiliano Massimo.

    The display in Palazzo Massimo alle Terme comprises four floors. The ground floor and 1st floor contain sculptures, busts and bas-reliefs; the second floor is dedicated to frescoes and mosaics, and the basement contains the coin collection, jewels and artifacts of daily life.

    Admission: € 7,00 (adults), valid 3 days for Palazzo Massimo, Palazzo Altemps, Crypta Balbi, Terme di Diocleziano.

    Palazzo Massimo alle Terme Palazzo Massimo alle Terme Fresco, Palazzo Massimo alle Terme Fresco, Palazzo Massimo alle Terme Statue, Palazzo Massimo alle Terme
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    Palazzo Massimo alle Terme: Ground floor

    by iblatt Updated Sep 29, 2011

    On the ground floor of Palazzo Massimo alle Terme there are statues, portraits and bas-reliefs from the Republican, Augustean and Giulio-Claudia eras. There are also some ancient Greek masterpieces discovered in Rome.

    The busts of the Roman emperors are some of the best of their kind, and bring out the character and special attributes of the individual emperors.

    Sculpture in Palazzo Massimo alle Terme Busts in Palazzo Massimo alle Terme Statue in Palazzo Massimo alle Terme Mosaic in Palazzo Massimo alle Terme Palazzo Massimo alle Terme: ground floor
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    Palazzo Massimo alle Terme: First floor

    by iblatt Updated Sep 29, 2011

    On the first floor of the museum there are sculptures from Flavia to the Late Imperial periods.

    Some of the sculptures are really stunning, and I kept coming back to look at then again from different angles, such as the famous wrestler resting after a fight, the discus thrower (Roman copy of the Greek statue), and others.
    The sarcophagi are also truly amazing in detail and workmanship.

    Wrestler after a fight: Palazzo Massimo alle Terme The thorn puller: Palazzo Massimo alle Terme Seleucid prince: Palazzo Massimo alle Terme Sarcophagus: Palazzo Massimo alle Terme Discus thrower: Palazzo Massimo alle Terme
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    Orient Yourself In Style

    by RoscoeGregg Written Apr 5, 2011

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    I put off going to see this museum the first few times I visited Rome. In retrospect that was a mistake. I would recommend that you see it as one of the first things you do in Rome. It is laid out in such a way that it really helps to put things into perspective and chronology.

    It also contains some of the most well know sculptures. Like the Boxer, The Dying Gaul, The Discus Thrower and Hermaphrodite. There are busts of many of the Roman Emperors and members of their family. These are placed chronologically which for me really helped to understand other sites in Rome.

    The top floor contains some well preserved and displayed frescos and fabulous mosaics. These are not to be missed. Many are very expressive, all are beautiful.

    The basement contains a great collection of historic coins.

    This is easy to find as it is right by the station. It is not very busy and is a relaxing way to get a good back ground on Roman history. It is not huge so it is not overwhelming. These things make it a great early stop in your Roman adventure.

    The Boxer one of my favorites Be Ready For The Suprise!! Hot Tubin' It Roman Style Moasic Fantastico
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    Palazzo Massimo alle Terme

    by Lacristina Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    UPDATE, March 2006

    With most people heading off to the Vatican museums or the Borghese, this museum doesn't get seen often enough. It is one of several sites of the National Museum of Rome. It is filled with great sculpture (like the famous "Discuss Thower") but it's main claim to fame is its fabulous collection of mosaics and frescos, taken from villas in and around Rome. There are several entire rooms which have been preserved with all the original frescos, so you can step into and see exactly what the rooms looked like 2000 years ago. The mosaics collection is incredible.

    When you buy your ticket, ask for a reservation for the next tour of the mosaics and frescos (it's included in the price of the ticket). You aren't allowed to visit them by yourself. An English speaking guide gives the tour in both English and Italian. Your ticket will show the time of your tour.

    UPDATE March 2006: No tour. You get to see the frescos and mosaics on your own, whenever you like, for as long as you like.

    The mosaics and frescoes are found on the top floor (this is the "second" floor in Italy, while Americans would call it the "third" floor. In the US, the ground floor is called the first floor, but in Italy, it is called "piantereno." The first floor above ground is called the first floor or "primo piano," and so on.)

    There is a very nice gift shop.

    One of dozens of mosaics
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    Statues in Roman museums.

    by breughel Updated Mar 18, 2011

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    FORUM REPLY about statues in Roman museums.
    Just to extend my previous forum reply:

    Capitoline museums are in my opinion the best museum complex in Rome (could not restrain from writing half a dozen tips to express my admiration for what is on display).

    Second is for me the less known Museo Romano at Palazzo Massimo (located between piazza della Repubblica and Termini bus terminal)
    Here a few lines of one my tips about this collection:
    "There are in this museum two large bronze statues, among the most beautiful of the antiquity.
    The "Pugilatore" resting pugilist or "boxer" is the ancient, most extraordinary, most attractive statue I saw these ten last years.
    I turned and turned around the resting boxer who expresses in such realistic way the tiredness and the suffering of the fight. The wounds of his face are distinctively shown on the bronze. I noted that the protection of hands and forearms by leather gloves made of straps binding the four fingers and leaving the thumb free. They are of a clearer colour because they had been rubbed in the past by people who considered this statue as a good-luck charm "portafortuna".
    Some steps further stands another remarkable bronze statue “the Hellenistic Prince". This is maybe king Attalus II of Pergamon or could also be a Roman wishing to be presented as a Greek prince….
    Don’t leave Rome without having seen these statues. "

    As for the Vatican Museum the title of my tip "Worthwhile?" joins the opinion from Roadquill.

    Pugilatore - Pugilist Hellenistic prince
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