Museo Nazionale di Palazzo Venezia
The building was once the seat of the embassy of the Republic of Venice (1564-1797), then of France (from 1797) and later Austria (from 1814).The fifteenth-century Palazzo Venezia, a splendid example of a Roman noble palace with Tuscan influences attributed to the work of Leon Battista Alberti. It has been the home of the National Museum since 1916 (the year when it was returned to the Italian State).The museum is named after the building.
Rich and varied collections of medieval art and from the early renaissance from various private collections have merged in the museum. Subsequent to an initial partial opening in 1921, which was supervised by Federico Hermanin, and until the end of the Second World War, the Museum was forced to coexist with the occupation of the Fascist government which used the Appartamento Barbo (currently used as an exhibition area) as state rooms and those of the Appartamento Cybo as the private residence of the Duce. Even though the museum benefited from an arrangement adapted for its wealthy collections since 1936, it was closed to the public during its occupation for security reasons, therefore it did not attain the fame that it deserved. This problem still affects it today, and it has tried to find a solution with the museum reorganisation that started at the beginning of the ‘90s and is not yet complete.
The current tour features three large sections which correspond to the architectural articulation of the palace. The Appartamento Cybo houses items from the medieval period and a rich collection of paintings from XIII to XVIII century which is divided by geographic areas. Particular attention is given to the paintings from the regions in central-northern Italy from the Sterbini collection; masterpieces by Pisanello, Gozzoli, Giorgione, Borgianni, Solimena and Maratta thus alternate with monumental examples of thirteenth-century painted crosses, valuable manufactured articles of medieval jewellery (for example the Cross in rock crystal from the Othonian era), diptychs and Byzantine ivory boxes, architectural-sculptural elements tied to the local tradition of Roman marble workers (like the marble transenna by Giovanni di Stefano of 1372 from the Ara Coeli), large fifteenth-century wooden chests and valuable examples of Latium wood sculpture from the thirteenth century such as the polychrome Vergine col Bambino (known as di Acute).
The halls of the adjacent Palazzetto Venezia house very wealthy collections of small renaissance bronzes from the collection of Roman antique dealer Alfredo Barsanti and ambassador Giacinto Auriti (with works by Riccio, Giambologna and Francesco Mochi) and also the very interesting collection of terracotta models most of which once belonged to opera singer Evan Gorgo from the Cavaceppi collection, some experiments by Bernini (the Testa del Moro, study for the fountain in Piazza Navona and l’Angelocol titolo for Ponte Sant’Angelo) and by Algardi, both masters who brought crucial innovations to the field of teaching through the large number of followers widely represented in the museum, are among the most interesting pieces which the collection boasts.
The so-called Passagio dei Cardinali acts as a link between the two sections, the old patrol trench was covered in the eighteenth century, here, room is given to the sections dedicated to ceramics and chinaware datable between VIII and XIX century.There are several particular collections in the museum, for example; a consistent nucleus of Roman and Latium artefacts from the early Middle Ages (small jugs, jars and special plates used for bread) and the complete collection of domestic ceramic typologies in use in different Italian geographic areas until the early fifteenth century tell the story of the origins of ceramic works which achieved great success from the XVI until the XVIII century (compare the manufactured articles of Deruta, Faenza, Montelupo, Savona, Genova and Albissola, and the Dutch work of Delft); a wide panorama of chinaware from European factories from XVIII to the early years of XX century is offered by pieces from the Factory of Meissen (specialised in small polychrome sculptures and furnishings which were also decorative), from the factory of Vienna, Sèvres, Paris and also from the Imperial Factory of St. Petersburg and the Moscow Factory of Popoff for foreign countries (with a small nucleus of oriental chinaware) while Italian production is represented from the Factories of Capodimonte, Buen Retiro, the Real Factory of Naples and the Tuscan factory of Doccia.
The museum,which has a small but precious collection of tapestries produced in Brussels, also has the beautiful ceiling fresco painted by Giorgio Vasari in 1553 for the loggia of the Palazzo owned at the time by the powerful banker Bindo Altoviti. It was saved from destruction in 1888 when work was being done on the embankments of the Tiber river, it is now located and named after the Appartamento Cybo. Instead, the collection of Odescalchi arms which gathers over 1200 pieces and
which recounts the history of the evolution of instruments used for military attacks from the IX century to the XIX century, is still undergoing preparation.
Address Via del Plebiscito, 118
Visiting Hours Every day from 8.30 am to 7.30 pm (the ticket office closes one hour before the schedule closing time)
Closed Monday, Dec. 25, Jan. 1
Telephone e Fax 06 699941
Price € 4,00; concessions € 2,00; free admission to those aged under 18 and over 65