10 Great Places to see Art Exhibitions in Rome: Beyond the Vatican Museums

There is certainly no shortage of art to see when you are visiting Rome. Pop into just about any church, there are over 900, and you can find sculptures by Bernini and Michelangelo and paintings by Caravaggio. The Vatican Museums are arguably one of the world’s finest collections of art and absolutely worth a visit but there are also many other world-class exhibitions in Rome.

Art Exhibitions in Rome

All kinds of shows come to Rome including ancient treasures that are loaned from other Italian regions and museums from around the world. Many of these museums have rich permanent collections in addition to temporary exhibitions. To help you explore even more of Rome’s artistic treasures in Renaissance cloisters and modern palazzos, we have put together this list of 10 great places to see art exhibitions in Rome.

Museo dell'Ara Pacis

Richard Meier via Wiki Commons

Museo dell’Ara Pacis 

The striking and modern Richard Meier glass and travertine building along the Lungotevere houses the ancient monument the Ara Pacis Augustae. This triumphal piece was commissioned by the Roman senate in 13 BC to honor the emperor, Augustus. The Museo dell’Ara Pacis offers a virtual reality experience of the monument and has a small exhibition space downstairs for visiting shows. 

The Scuderie del Quirinale

The Scuderie del Quirinale is at the top of one of Rome’s famous seven hills (the Quirinale) and is part of the Palazzo Quirinale, which is an official residence of the President of the Italian Republic. Built in the 1700s, the building was once used as the carriage house and stables of the palazzo. Today it hosts major art exhibitions in Rome. The climb to the top floor offers a view out towards San Pietro. The bookstore is worth a visit for unusual and interesting Roman and museum themed gifts. 

Ciorano via Wiki Commons

Palazzo Bonaparte

Piazza Venezia is a chaotic traffic circle that is best known for the massive Vittoriano monument. The Palazzo Bonaparte stands at the beginning of the famous shopping street the via del Corso and has recently opened to the public after years of renovations. Once the home to Maria Letizia Ramolino, you may know her better as the mother of Napoleon Bonaparte, who used her enclosed green shuttered balcony to watch over the piazza. The Suprema Style and Giada apartments are a nice stroll.

Palazzo Venezia

Across the street from the Palazzo Bonaparte is the Palazzo Venezia. Over the centuries, this palace has been home to a pope, the Venetian and the Austrian embassy to Rome and the headquarters of the Fascist party. Today it is a small museum that has an eclectic collection of furniture, paintings and few Bernini sculptures. The real secret here is the quiet garden in the middle that is free and open to the public. 

Chiostro del Bramante

The Chiostro del Bramante is one of Rome’s prettiest spaces. Built by the Renaissance era architect and rival of Michelangelo, Donato Bramante was originally part of a monastery complex. The church next door is home to four Sibyl frescoes painted by Raphael. Look for the special room next to the cafe where you can view them. The exhibition space showcases major modern artists.  The Italy Perfect Cortigiana apartment is right there.

Livioandronico2013 via Wiki Commons

Palazzo Braschi

The Palazzo Braschi is one of the Renaissance palaces that ring the Piazza Navona. Modern by Roman standards, it was built on the footprint of a fifteenth-century construction and centuries of political and financial problems beset its completion. After WWII, it even served as shelter for 300 homeless families. After extensive repairs and renovations undertaken by the Italian state today, the palace is home to the Museo di Roma and hosts art, sculpture and photography shows. The views over the three fountains in the piazza are special. It’s very convenient to our Pasquino apartment.

Palazzo Altemps

Inside the 15th century, Palazzo Altemps is an enthralling selection of Classical sculpture collected by Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi in the 17th century. The Ludovisi Battle sarcophagus dates to the 3rd century and is remarkable for its fine detail depicting the Romans fighting the Ostrogoths. Purchase the combined ticket for a few euros more and you will have entry to the three other museums that are part of the Museo Nazionale Romano. 

Gobbler via Wiki Commons

Palazzo Barberini

The Palazzo Barberini is home to Rome’s National Gallery of Ancient Art. In this vast palace, you can visit famous works by Caravaggio, Bernini, Lippi and Rafael. The site of personal gardens and vineyards of the Sforza family in the 15th century was purchased by the Barberini family in 1625. Three of Italy’s greatest architects, Maderno, Borromini and Bernini all worked on the building. Don’t miss the hidden garden and magnificent oval spiral staircase. This is easy to reach from the Italy Perfect apartments nearby such as Corelli Charm.

Palazzo Merulana

A short stroll from Termini train station is the Palazzo Merulana. The former Health Department had been abandoned for decades, but it has been painstakingly restored into a gleaming light-filled space. The permanent collection is works of 20th-century artists from Rome and Italy, including pieces by Boetti, De Chirico and Pirandello.

Centrale Montemartini

The Centrale Montemartini is an unconventional mix of form and function where Roman sculptures and mosaic floors from the Capitoline Museum collection are placed among the massive engines and turbines that once powered the city.  The former power plant-turned-museum is in the Ostiense neighborhood where you can explore a thriving street art and modern dining scene. 

Ready to explore some of Rome’s best museums? Get in touch with the Italy Perfect team today to find a vacation rental that is perfect for your trip. 

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