There are lots of amazing museums to see when you’re in Rome. One that shouldn’t be missed for those looking to discover Ancient Rome is the National Roman Museum – Palazzo Massimo alle Terme.
The building itself is a late 19th century palazzo and was purchased by the Italian state in 1960 to house parts of the collection of the National Roman Museum. The museum opened to the public in 1998.
There are many impressive statues on display, including the famous Augustus as High priest statue (This statue was also recently on display at an exhibition at the Scuderie del Quirinale, see my post on the Augustus exhibition), the bronze Dyonisus, and the discus thrower.
One of the highlights of the museum is the beautiful painted garden fresco once housed in the Villa of Livia, the wife of Augustus (30-20 BC). Botanists have identified the species of plants, and birds perched in the tress look almost lifelike. It’s amazing to realize this fresco was painted over 2000 years ago when it appears so lifelike in this room.
There are also amazing mosaics lining the walls. I hadn’t been back to this museum in years and ina recent visit a few weeks ago, I was surprised to see many of the mosaics I’d admired when the musuem first opened its doors to the public.
There is also the recovered Emperoror’s pleasure ships, recovered from the depths of Lake Nemi, outisde of Rome. Take the time to see the short film speaking about the efforts to recover the ships, and how the lake was drained to recover them. Bounty hunters had been trying to reach them for centuries, and the short film chronicles the rather spectacular (but failed) attempts to reach the boats. The impressive statues and relics from the two ships are on display in the museum.
The basement contains the mummified remains of a young Roman girl. Another short film is informative about burial rituals in Ancient Rome and the DNA obtained from this mummy, and what it shows us about life in the Eternal City 2000 years ago. On the same floor, there’s also an impressive collection of Ancient Roman coins spanning centuries.
Don’t miss out on Palazzo Massimo when you’re next in Rome. And if you’re lucky enough to be in Rome on the first Sunday of the month, do what I did with my family the first Sunday of this month and visit this museum free of charge. Enjoy your visit back to Ancient Rome!
Palazzo Massimo is open daily, except Mondays, 9:00 – 19:45. It is located on Largo di Villa Peretti, just across the Termini train station and close to Piazza Repubblica.