National Roman Museum – Palazzo Massimo
Palazzo Massimo is a museum in Rome which holds most of the ancient art collection of the National Roman Museum (Italian: Museo Nazionale Romano), one of the largest and most visited archaeological museums in Italy.
History and building
The museum is housed in a 19th century palace, known as Palazzo Massimo (or Palazzo Massimo alle Terme to distinguish it from Palazzo Massimo alle Colonne, another palace in Rome), located between the Termini rail station and the Baths of Diocletian.
The Renaissance-revival Palazzo Massimo was built from 1883 to 1887 as a Jesuit school, after a commission by Father Massimiliano Massimo (hence the palace’s name) and a design by architect Camillo Pistrucci.
In the ’80s, the building was acquired and restored by the Italian State in order to convert it into a museum which opened to the public in 1998.
Along with palazzo Massimo, the National Roman Museum network comprises other three branches in Rome: the Baths of Diocletian, Palazzo Altemps, and the Cyrpta Balbi.
Collections and permanent exhibitions
Despite the rather unimpressive appearance of its building, the National Roman Museum at Palazzo Massimo holds and displays one of the world’s finest collections of antiquities. The collection comprises a large number of ancient Roman and Hellenistic artifacts, including sculptures, altarpieces, sarcophagi, mosaics, fresco paintings, and coins.
Sculptural works are on view on the ground and first floor of the museum; they include renowned masterpieces such as the Discobolus Lancellotti (one of the best Roman copies of the original Greek sculpture by Myron), the Via Labicana Augustus statue of Emperor Augustus, the Hellenistic bronze statue of the Boxer at Rest, a series of bronze sculptures which once adorned the Emperor Caligula’s ships retrieved from Lake Nemi in the early 20th century, and the impressive Portonaccio sarcophagus, among others.
Roman mosaics and fresco paintings, found in aristocratic villas and ancient public buildings in and around Rome, are exhibited on the second floor.
Finally, a large number of coins and medals dating from antiquity to the 20th century are on view in the basement.
Along with exhibition spaces, the museum’s building includes a library, and a conference room; an internal bar-restaurant is scheduled for opening in 2017. The museum is fully accessible to physically-impaired persons.
Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, National Roman Museum, exterior; photo: Richard
Views of rooms of the ancient sculpture gallery of the National Roman Museum at Palazzo Massimo; photo by Sergio
The “Via Labicana Augustus” marble statue, 1st century AD; photo: Egisto Siani
Two Roman copies of the Discobolus of Myron, the sculpture on the right is the famous “Discobolus Lancellotti” (2nd century AD); photo by Sergio
The Portonaccio sarcophagus, 2nd century AD; photo: Giuseppe Savo
Two bronze sculptures of a Hellenistic Prince (left, 2nd century BC) and of a Boxer at Rest (right, dated from 4th to 1st century BC); photo by Sergio
Fresco paintings from Villa della Farnesina, 1st century AD; photo: Jacqueline Poggi
Bronze sculptural decorations from the Imperial ships found in Lake Nemi, 1st century A; photos by Sergio (top and bottom) and Ryan Baumann (middle)
Palazzo Massimo – National Roman Museum, Ivory Face, ca. 1st century AD; photo by Sergio