The Capitoline Museums (Italian: Musei Capitolini) is a single museum containing a group of art and archaeological museums in Piazza del Campidoglio, on top of the Capitoline Hill in Rome, Italy. The historic seats of the museums are Palazzo dei Conservatori and Palazzo Nuovo, facing on the central trapezoidal piazza in a plan conceived by Michelangelo in 1536 and executed over a period of more than 400 years. The history of the museums can be traced to 1471, when Pope Sixtus IV donated a collection of important ancient bronzes to the people of Rome and located them on the Capitoline Hill. Since then, the museums' collection has grown to include a large number of ancient Roman statues, inscriptions, and other artifacts; a collection of medieval and Renaissance art; and collections of jewels, coins, and other items. The museums are owned and operated by the municipality of Rome.
Opened to the public in 1734 under Clement XII, the Capitoline Museums are considered the first museum in the world, understood as a place where art could be enjoyed by all and not only by the owners.
The Palazzo dei Conservatori is one of the three main buildings of the Capitoline Museums.
Location within Rome
|Location||Piazza del Campidoglio 1, 00186 Rome, Italy|
|Type||archaeology, Art museum, Historic site|
|Director||Claudio Parisi Presicce|
This section contains collections sorted by building, and brief information on the buildings themselves. For the history of their design and construction, see Capitoline Hill#Michelangelo.
The Capitoline Museums are composed of three main buildings surrounding the Piazza del Campidoglio and interlinked by an underground gallery beneath the piazza.
The three main buildings of the Capitoline Museums are:
In addition, the 16th century Palazzo Caffarelli-Clementino, located off the piazza adjacent to the Palazzo dei Conservatori, was added to the museum complex in the early 20th century.
Features the relief from the honorary monument to Marcus Aurelius.
The second floor of the building is occupied by the Conservator's Apartment, a space now open to the public and housing such famous works as the bronze she-wolf nursing Romulus and Remus, which has become the emblem of Rome. The Conservator's Apartment is distinguished by elaborate interior decorations, including frescoes, stuccos, tapestries, and carved ceilings and doors.
The third floor of the Palazzo dei Conservatori houses the Capitoline Art Gallery, housing the museums' painting and applied art galleries. The Capitoline Coin Cabinet, containing collections of coins, medals, jewels, and jewelry, is located in the attached Palazzo Caffarelli-Clementino.
The Galleria Congiunzione is located beneath the Palazzo dei Conservatori and the piazza itself, and links the three palazzos sitting on the piazza. The gallery was constructed in the 1930s. It contains in situ 2nd century ruins of ancient Roman dwellings, and also houses the Galleria Lapidaria, which displays the Museums' collection of epigraphs.
The new great glass covered hall — the Sala Marco Aurelio — created by covering the Giardino Romano is similar to the one used for the Sala Ottagonale and British Museum Great Court. The design is by the architect Carlo Aymonino. Its volume recalls that of the oval space designed by Michelangelo for the piazza.
Its centerpiece is the bronze equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, which was once in the centre of Piazza del Campidoglio and has been kept indoors ever since its modern restoration. Moving these statues out of the palazzo allows those sculptures temporarily moved to the Centrale Montemartini to be brought back. It also houses the remaining fragments of the bronze Colossus of Constantine and the archaeological remains of the tuff foundations of the temple of Capitoline Jupiter, with a model, drawn and computer reconstructions and finds dating from the earliest occupation on the site (in the mid Bronze Age: 17th-14th centuries B.C.) to the foundation of the temple (6th century BC).
In the three halls adjacent to the Appartamento dei Conservatori are to be found the showcases of the famous Castellani Collection with a part of the set of Greek and Etruscan vases that was donated to the municipality of Rome by Augusto Castellani in the mid-19th century.
The Centrale Montemartini is a former power station of Acea (active as a power-station between the 1890s and 1930s) in southern Rome, between Piramide and the basilica of San Paolo Fuori le Mura, close to the Metro station Garbatella. In 1997, the Centrale Montemartini was adapted to temporarily accommodate a part of the antique sculpture collection of the Capitoline museums, at that time closed for renovation; the temporary exhibition was so appreciated that the venue was eventually converted into a permanent museum.  Its permanent collection comprises 400 ancient statues, moved here during the reorganisation of the Capitoline Museums in 1997, along with tombs, busts, and mosaics. Many of them were excavated in the ancient Roman horti (e.g. the Gardens of Sallust) between the 1890s and 1930s, a fruitful period for Roman archaeology. They are displayed there along the lines of Tate Modern, except that (unlike there) the machinery has not been moved out.
The Arch of Claudius was a triumphal arch built in honour of the emperor Claudius's successful invasion of Britain. It is now lost, although its inscription is held at the Capitoline Museums and may be seen here.The arch was dedicated in AD 51, although it was anticipated on the reverse of coins issued in AD 46-47 and AD 49. The coin shows it as surmounted by an equestrian statue between two trophies. It was a conversion of one of the arches of the Aqua Virgo aqueduct where it crossed the Via Flaminia, the main road to the north, just north of the Saepta.
The reconstructed inscription (also found on arches dedicated for the same reason at Boulogne-sur-Mer - Claudius's departure point for Britain - and at Cyzicus) reads:
It seems to have been in ruins as early as the eighth century, but in 1562, in 1641, and again in 1869 portions of the structure were found, including part of the principal inscription, inscriptions dedicated to other members of the imperial family, some of the foundations, and fragments of sculpture of which all traces have been lost.Capitoline Brutus
The Capitoline Brutus is an ancient Roman bronze bust commonly thought to depict the Roman consul Lucius Junius Brutus (d. 509 BC), usually dated to the late 4th to early 3rd centuries BC, but perhaps as late as the 2nd century BC, or early 1st century BC. The bust is 69 cm (27 in) in height and is currently located in the Hall of the Triumphs within the Capitoline Museums, Rome. Traditionally taken to be an early example of Roman portraiture and perhaps by an Etruscan artist influenced by Hellenistic art and contemporary Greek styles of portraiture, it may be "an archaizing work of the first century BC". The Roman head was provided with a toga-clad bronze bust during the Renaissance.Capitoline Venus
The Capitoline Venus is a type of statue of Venus, specifically one of several Venus Pudica (modest Venus) types (others include the Venus de' Medici type), of which several examples exist. The type ultimately derives from the Aphrodite of Cnidus. The Capitoline Venus and her variants are recognisable from the position of the arms—standing after a bath, Venus begins to cover her breasts with her right hand, and her groin with her left hand.
This original of this type (from which the following copies derive) is thought to be a lost 3rd- or 2nd-century BCE variation on Praxiteles' work from Asia Minor, which modifies the Praxitelean tradition by a carnal and voluptuous treatment of the subject and the goddess's modest gesture with both hands—rather than only one over the groin, in Praxiteles's original.Capitoline Wolf
The Capitoline Wolf (Italian: Lupa Capitolina) is a bronze sculpture depicting a scene from the legend of the founding of Rome. The sculpture shows a she-wolf suckling the mythical twin founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus. According to the legend, when Numitor, grandfather of the twins, was overthrown by his brother Amulius, the usurper ordered them to be cast into the Tiber River. They were rescued by a she-wolf who cared for them until a herdsman, Faustulus, found and raised them.
The age and origin of the Capitoline Wolf is controversial. The statue was long thought to be an Etruscan work of the 5th century BC, with the twins added in the late 15th century AD, probably by the sculptor Antonio Pollaiolo. However, radiocarbon and thermoluminescence dating has found that the wolf portion of the statue is likely to have been cast between 1021 and 1153.The image of the she-wolf suckling Romulus and Remus is a symbol of Rome since ancient times and one of the most recognizable icons of ancient mythology. The sculpture has been housed since 1471 in the Palazzo dei Conservatori on the Campidoglio (the ancient Capitoline Hill), Rome, Italy, and there are many replicas in various places around the world.Colossus of Constantine
The Colossus of Constantine (Italian: Statua Colossale di Costantino I) was a huge acrolithic statue of the late Roman emperor Constantine the Great (c. 280–337) that once occupied the west apse of the Basilica of Maxentius near the Forum Romanum in Rome. Portions of the Colossus now reside in the Courtyard of the Palazzo dei Conservatori of the Musei Capitolini, on the Capitoline Hill, above the west end of the Forum.Cupid and Psyche (Capitoline Museums)
The marble Cupid and Psyche conserved in the Capitoline Museums, Rome, is a 1st or 2nd century CE Roman copy of a late Hellenistic original. It was given to the nascent Capitoline Museums by Pope Benedict XIV in 1749, shortly after its discovery. Its graceful balance and sentimental appearance made it a favourite among the neoclassical generations of artists and visitors, and it was copied in many materials from bronze to biscuit porcelain. Antonio Canova consciously set out to outdo the Antique original with his own Cupid and Psyche of 1808 (illustration, below left)
The sculpture was discovered in the garden of the vigna of the canonico Panicale on the Aventine Hill in February 1749.The sculpture quite eclipsed a Roman marble of a winged Cupid and Psyche that had been discovered in the 17th century and removed to the Medici collection in Florence. The Capitoline Cupid and Psyche was among the cream of the Roman collections sequestered by the French under the terms of the treaty of Tolentino (1797) and transferred to Paris amid grand theatrics. It was returned to Rome after the fall of Napoleon.
Not all viewers were satisfied by its mediocre execution, and Francis Haskell and Nicholas Penny noted that Jean-Baptiste de Saint-Victor thought it was a reflection of some earlier, better work, and that, earlier, Joseph-Jerome Le Français de Lalande hoped in print that it might inspire some modern sculptor to come up with a superior work on the same subject. Antonio Canova took up the challenge quite consciously, in his Cupid and Psyche of 1808.
Another version of the Cupid and Psyche was discovered by conte Giuseppe Fede in his early excavations at Hadrian's Villa, Tivoli. It has disappeared now, but it was drawn, in its completed and restored condition, by Pompeo Batoni, who was assembling a "paper museum" of antiquities in 1727-30 for the English antiquary Richard Topham. As it was restored, Cupid turns his head away coyly.Dying Gaul
The Dying Gaul, also called The Dying Galatian (in Italian: Galata Morente) or The Dying Gladiator, is an Ancient Roman marble copy of a lost Hellenistic sculpture, thought to have been originally executed in bronze. The original may have been commissioned some time between 230 and 220 BC by Attalus I of Pergamon to celebrate his victory over the Galatians, the Celtic or Gaulish people of parts of Anatolia (modern Turkey). The identity of the sculptor of the original is unknown, but it has been suggested that Epigonus, a court sculptor of the Attalid dynasty of Pergamon, may have been the creator.
The copy was most commonly known as The Dying Gladiator until the 20th century on the assumption that it depicted a wounded gladiator in a Roman amphitheatre. Scholars had identified it as a Gaul or Galatian by the mid-19th century, but it took many decades for the new title to achieve popular acceptance.Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius
The Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius is an ancient Roman statue in the Capitoline Hill, Rome, Italy. It is made of bronze and stands 4.24 m (13.9 ft) tall. Although the emperor is mounted, it exhibits many similarities to standing statues of Augustus. The original is on display in the Capitoline Museums, with the one now standing in the open air of the Piazza del Campidoglio being a replica made in 1981 when the original was taken down for restoration.Furietti Centaurs
The Furietti Centaurs (known as the Old Centaur and Young Centaur, or Older Centaur and Younger Centaur, when being treated separately) are a pair of Hellenistic or Roman grey-black marble sculptures of centaurs based on Hellenistic models. One is a mature, bearded centaur, with a pained expression, and the other is a young smiling centaur with his arm raised. The amorini are missing that once rode the backs of these centaurs, which are the outstanding examples of a group of sculptures varying the motif.The strongly contrasted moods were intended to remind the Roman viewer of the soul troubled in pain with love or uplifted in joy, themes of Plato's Phaedrus and Hellenistic poetry.Hercules of the Forum Boarium
Hercules of the Forum Boarium is one of two gilded bronze statues of Hercules found on the site of the Forum Boarium of ancient Rome. The two statues were both placed in the Palazzo Dei Convervatori for safe keeping in 1950 and remain there today. The Hercules of Forum Boarium was likely to have been a cult image of Temple of Hercules that stood by the ancient cattle market.Resting Satyr
The Resting Satyr or Leaning Satyr, also known as the Satyr anapauomenos (in ancient Greek ἀναπαυόμενος, from ἀναπαύω / anapaúô, to rest) is a statue type generally attributed to the ancient Greek sculptor Praxiteles. Some 115 examples of the type are known, of which the best known is in the Capitoline Museums.Romulus and Remus (Rubens)
Romulus and Remus is a painting by the Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens. It is housed in the Pinacoteca Capitolina in Rome, Italy. It depicts the brothers Romulus and Remus being cared for by a wolf. The painting also shows the god of the Tiber river sitting on his urn, a woodpecker that watched over the twins to bring them food, and a shepherd discovering the infants.Tabula iliaca
A Tabula Iliaca ("Iliadic table") is a generic label for a calculation of the days of the Iliad, probably by Zenodotus, of which twenty-two fragmentary examples are now known. The Tabulae Iliacae are pinakes of early Imperial date, which all seem to have come from two Roman workshops, one of which seems to have been designed to satisfy a clientele of more modest aspirations.Tabularium
The Tabularium was the official records office of ancient Rome, and also housed the offices of many city officials. Situated within the Roman Forum, it was on the front slope of the Capitoline Hill, below the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus, to the southeast of the Arx and Tarpeian Rock.Within the building were the remains of the temple of Veiovis. In front of it were the Temples of Vespasian and Concord, as well as the Rostra and the rest of the forum. Presently the Tabularium is only accessible from within the Capitoline Museum, although it still provides a panoramic view over the Forum.The Construction of the Tabularium was ordered around 78 BC by the dictator Lucius Cornelius Sulla. The building was completed by Quintus Lutatius Catulus, consul in 78 BC. This was part of a public works programme for the redevelopment of the Capitoline Hill, which had been damaged by a fire in 83 BC. The construction by Catulus is not motioned in the ancient literature. It is known through an inscription (CIL 1).Temple of Veiovis
The Temple of Veiovis in ancient Rome was the temple of the god Veiovis.The Fortune Teller (Caravaggio)
The Fortune Teller is a painting by Italian Baroque artist Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. It exists in two versions, both by Caravaggio, the first from 1594 (now in the Musei Capitolini in Rome), the second from 1595 (which is in the Louvre museum, Paris). The dates in both cases are disputed.Timotheus (sculptor)
Timotheus (Greek: Τιμόθεος; born in Epidaurus; died in Epidaurus, c. 340 BC) was a Greek sculptor of the 4th century BC, one of the rivals and contemporaries of Scopas of Paros, among the sculptors who worked for their own fame on the construction of the grave of Mausolus at Halicarnassus between 353 and 350 BC. He was apparently the leading sculptor at the temple of Asklepios at Epidaurus, c. 380 BC. To him is attributed a sculpture of Leda and the Swan in which the queen Leda of Sparta protected a swan from an eagle, on the basis of which a Roman marble copy in the Capitoline Museums is said to be "after Timotheus". The theme must have been popular, judging by the more than two dozen Roman marble copies that survive. The most famous version has been that in the Capitoline Museums in Rome, purchased by Pope Clement XIV from the heirs of Cardinal Alessandro Albani. A highly restored version is in the Museo del Prado, and an incomplete one is in the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut.Togatus Barberini
Togatus Barberini is a Roman marble sculpture from around the first-century AD that depicts a full-body figure, referred to as a togatus, holding the heads of deceased ancestors in either hand. It is housed in the Centrale Montemartini in Rome, Italy (formerly in the Capitoline Museums). Little is known about this sculpture and who it depicts, but it is speculated to be a representation of the Roman funerary practice of creating death masks.