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3 Rome Museums - Compare/Contrast please...

3 Rome Museums - Compare/Contrast please...

Feb 9th, 2014, 07:28 AM
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3 Rome Museums - Compare/Contrast please...

Solo traveler first trip to Europe in mid September. I have 2.5 days (3nts) in Rome and have decided on seeing/doing the following: St. Peters, Pantheon, Forum, Colosseum and wandering the city center.

I am a novice when it comes to museums but would like to have a memorable, relaxing yet inspiring experience at a museum.

Can you please compare/contrast the following in terms wow factor, beauty, intimacy and the general vibe while visiting.

Vatican Museum - Borghese Gallery - National Museum of Rome
fables is offline  
Feb 9th, 2014, 07:37 AM
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That's asking to compare apples and oranges as far as I am concerned. Trying to choose one between the Vatican and Borghese for example simply isn't possible in my opinion.

That being said, given your limited time available, I'd say it doesn't matter which you choose. You're going to miss out on the others regardless and will need another visit to see them.

So I would go with what works in easiest with your walking around the city rambles, which would be the Vatican since you are already planning to be there.
dulciusexasperis is offline  
Feb 9th, 2014, 07:40 AM
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Don't forget the Modern Art museum, in Italy "Modern Art" starts around 1500.
bilboburgler is offline  
Feb 9th, 2014, 07:41 AM
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National Museum of Rome is 4 separate museums. I've only been to 2 of them so I won't address this except to say that you will find fewer people in the Palazzi Altemps and Massimo.

Intimacy - few museums are intimate. I would not say that the Vatian Museums nor Borghese Gallery are intimate. Both of these have beautiful art works and are completely different. They both have a wow factor and I would encourage you to visit both.

The Vatican Museums have tons of visitors and could not be considered relaxing but I would not discount them because of this. Some of the greatest museums in the world are thronged with visitors yet offer wonderful experiences.

With 2.5 days and your current agenda I would recommend the Borghese Gallery (must book tickets ahead and time is limited to 2 hours).

I have no idea what general vibe means. Please elaborate this question.
adrienne is offline  
Feb 9th, 2014, 07:48 AM
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To be clear, St. Peter's is the Basilica. The Vatican Museums are separate and about a 15-20 minute walk from St. Peter's. I find the museums less crowded in the afternoons. YMMV.

The Borghese is reservation mandatory and has set entry times (2 hour total time allowed in). You also aren't allowed to take anything in with you (no camera, no purse, etc.) so you need to allow time to check your things after you go through the ticket pick up line. You are allowed to keep a wallet in a clear bag they provide for you.
kybourbon is online now  
Feb 9th, 2014, 08:48 AM
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Thank you for the responses. I realize it is apples and oranges and opinions.

What I mean by general vibe is this. After looking at pictures of both, The Borghese seems like a very dense collection of pieces all in a relatively small space and seems very lavish and polished. The Vatican is obviously bigger and seems more natural/organic and the building itself seems like art even the stairs. Is that accurate?
fables is offline  
Feb 9th, 2014, 08:53 AM
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Vatican Museum exhibits Church's enormous collections including the masters. Wow, yes. It is the least intimate of the bunch. It is mobbed with tourists. There are small group tours off hours at premium prices.

Borghese Gallery is very intimate because it is severely capacity capped by reservations. It is a small fine art Museum. Outstanding collections of Canova and Bernini sculptures in one place. Gian Lorenzo Bernini left many marks in Rome including the Fountain of Four Rivers in Piazza Navona. If this is the first time you visit a museum with sculptures, you might not think much of them. But, if you have seen sculptures elsewhere, and come back here, the you will realize how extraordinary pieces Canova and Bernini created. You can feel the suppleness of the skin and cushions on these marble sculptures. You can also imagine hairs and clothes swaying in gentle breeze.

National Museum of Rome. I have been to the Palazzo Massimo, the main branch. It is a large collection of ancient Rome. Near Termini and is not crowded.
greg is offline  
Feb 9th, 2014, 08:56 AM
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The Borghese Museum is smallish but you can't see the entire collection in 2 hours. It was once a palazzo so that building is also lavish.

The Vatican Museum will take at least 2 hours to go through but you really need 3 to 4 hours for this at a minimum. If you go to the Vatican then decide what you want to see before you arrive. I would not say that the Vatican Museum are organic. Quite the opposite as they're arranged gallery after gallery.
adrienne is offline  
Feb 9th, 2014, 10:08 AM
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fables - one major museum that you haven't mentioned is the Capitoline museums on top of the Capitoline hill. to my mind it is a fantastic place to visit to get an over-view of the treasures of Rome. it is also right next to a fabulous church, and the wonderful Vittorio-Emanuale monument, which gives you a great view over Rome.

wander up the Corso opposite, and you will quickly come upon the Galleria doria-Pamphilij which combines the interest of family rooms arranged in the 18C style, a great commentary by one of the family, and a wonderful collection of art. and it's usually not at all crowded.

IMO combining those two, museum & gallery, is as good as the Vatican, and far less crowded than the Borghese.
annhig is offline  
Feb 9th, 2014, 10:10 AM
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Rome has at least 12 world-class museums. The Vatican Museums and Borghese Gallery are probably the two most frequently visited, at least by English-speaking tourists, and are almost always crowded.

I've been to the Vatican Museums four times, and all four times the crowds were nearly unbearable. I want to make at least one more visit, to see a few things I've missed on the other visits, but this time I'll go on a mid-week (except Wednesday) afternoon in winter (except near Christmas). Most people who visit the Vatican Museums don't really care much for art at all; they shuffle along shoulder to shoulder on the crowded corridor leading to the Sistine Chapel, and miss the Pinocoteca (painting gallery), the fabulous Egyptian collection, the nearly as fabulous Etruscan collection, and barely glance at the wonder ancient sculptures.

The Borghese Gallery is a lot smaller than the Vatican Museums, but usually equally crowded. Its huge popularity is fairly recent. The first time I went there, it wasn't on most people's top ten lists. Entrance is by reservation only, and you're given a two-hour time slot. You have to be there half an hour before your reserved time slot, and everyone enters and exits at the time. I've been there three times, two of which were to see a special exhibit. Other than that, it wouldn't be my favorite museum, because of its heavy focus on the Baroque period (not my favorite) and especially on Bernini, an artist I don't really care for, and I hope that lightning doesn't strike me down.

The National Roman Museum has four sites, as Adrienne has said. Palazzo Massimo alle Terme is one of my favorite museums in Rome. It has a spectacular collection of ancient scultpture, as well as ancient mosaics, and rare ancient Roman frescoes from the villa of Livia, wife of the Emperor Augustus. There are also other ancient artifacts, such as jewelry. There's even a mummy, a young girl who died in Rome in ancient times, and was buried in the Egyptian manner. Your ticket to the museum lets you visit all four sites, over a period of three days.

However, this barely scratches the surface of the great museums in Rome. Here are some more:

The Capitoline Museums, another of my favorites, has a superb collection of ancient art, especially sculpture. There are famous works such as the Capitoline Venus; and the Capitoline wolf, who legend says nursed the infant Romulus and Remus. You can also see the foundations of the ancient Temple of Jupiter, great views over the Roman Forum, and the original gilded bronze equestrian statue of the emperor Marcus Aurelius, whose copy is on the piazza outside. The piazza itself, designed by Michelangelo, is worth a visit.

The Barberini Gallery of Ancient Art, near Trevi Fountain, really is a gallery of art from the middle ages through early modern times. This is a world class museum that would have long lines in any other city with fewer great museums. There are masterpieces by Raphael, Caravaggio, Bernini, Bronzino, Lippi, El Greco, Hans Holbein's famous portrait of Henry VIII of England, Piero da Cortona's magnificent ceiling fresco - I'm sure I've overlooked some other great masters.

The Corsini Gallery is a small museum in Trastevere, across the street from the Villa Farnesina, with a superb collection of paintings, collected in the 18th century by the nephew of Pope Clement XII. In this small gallery, there are works by Rubens, Van Dyck, Caravaggio, Beato Angelico, Gentileschi and Murillo. You can get a joint ticket for the Barberini Gallery and the Corsini Gallery for 9 euros, one of the best bargains in Rome. You should also visit the Villa Farnesina, across the street from the Corsini Gallery, which also costs only five euros.

The Villa Farnesina is a Renaissance villa in Trastevere, across from the Corsini Gallery. It's set in a beautiful garden, and some of the rooms are decorated with frescoes by Raphael. This museum is one of the few open on Mondays, but it closes every day at 2 PM. It's normally closed on Sundays, but sometimes they have guided tours and concerts on a Sunday afternoon.

The Doria Pamphilj Gallery is a private museum near the Pantheon, which is also open on Mondays. This palazzo is still owned and partly inhabited by descendants of the powerful Doria Pamphilj family. The gallery has some great works of art that were part of the family's collection over the centuries, and they're displayed on the walls as they were displayed in the Renaissance, covering nearly every inch of space. The rooms are furnished in the styles of various periods, and are very well preserved. The ticket price includes an excellent audio guide narrated by a member of the family. There are often concerts held in the gallery.

I'm not sure what museum of modern art Bilboburgler means; there are several museums whose names contain "modern art", but I don't know any whose collection starts in 1500. The two I know have works from the 19th and 20th centuries. There is a municipal museum called the Galleria di Arte Moderna, which is near the Spanish Steps, and has a collection of works of the 19th and 20th centuries. Then there's the National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art, at the northern edge of the Villa Borghese gardens, which has a larger collection of art from the same period. I haven't been to either of these.

Then there is the MAXXI, which focuses on exhibits and installations of art of the 21st century, in a building designed by the famous architect Zaha Hadid.

Also the MACRO, a municipal museum of contemporary art, which has a collection of works from the 20th and 21st centuries, in a building designed by a French architect, whose name I forget. This museum has two sites, one near the Porta Pia and one (which I think houses very large installations) in Testaccio. Many of the works in this museum used to be in the Galleria Nazionale di Arte Moderna.

These are not even all of the great museums in Rome. I've left out the other three sites of the National Roman Museum and several museums that are not primarily art museums, such as the National Etrsucan Museum in Villa Giula.

The Vatican Museums and the Borghese Gallery are not what I consider relaxing experiences. The most intimate museums are probably the Villa Farnesina and the Corsini Gallery, which you could visit together in a morning, as they're both small and right across from each other.

I have a feeling that your favorite of all I've mentioned, based on your preferences, might be the Doria Pamphilj Gallery. It's between the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain, in an area that surely won't be very far out of your way. It's not huge and has never been crowded when I've been there, and it's a beautiful space; the palazzo itself is a great part of its attraction. You might enjoy visiting during one of their concerts. Everyone I know who's gone there has loved it.
bvlenci is offline  
Feb 9th, 2014, 10:13 AM
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Bilbo, I'm really puzzled by your reference to the modern art museum whose collection starts in the 16th century. I can't think of any museum in Rome whose collection fits that description.
bvlenci is offline  
Feb 9th, 2014, 11:01 AM
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bvlenci, thanks for your great list of museums in Rome.
Saraho is online now  
Feb 9th, 2014, 01:00 PM
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Remember, that list isn't complete! There are also some other palazzos that have art collections, like the Palazzo Farnese, now home of the French Embassy, or the Corsini Gallery, which has rather limited hours, or the Villa Medici, on the southern edge of the Villa Borghese Park, which is home to the French Academy. Then there are places that mostly host temporary exhibits, like the Scuderie of the Quirinale, whose exhibits are usually block-busters; the Vittoriano complex has several museums, one of which has temporary exhibitions; and the Ara Pacis, in a building designed by Richard Meier, which holds the ancient Roman altar of peace (Ara Pacis), and also hosts temporary exhibits. I saw an excellent Chagall show at the Ara Pacis a few years back.

In fact, most people don't think of Rome as a city of art museums, but I don't know of any other city with as many great museums. Most of these museums don't get anywhere near the number of visitors they deserve, because people depend too much on top-10 lists to decide what to see. Also maybe the sheer number of them is the problem; maybe it would be better if half a dozen of them were merged into a Roman equivalent of the Louvre. I find it incredible that a museum like the Barberini Gallery is totally uncrowded on a summer weekend. People should be flocking there for the air conditioning quite apart from the great art!
bvlenci is offline  
Feb 9th, 2014, 01:46 PM
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thank you greg and adrienne for the breakdowns.

Capitoline is very close to my hotel annhig and was on my preliminary list til my list got too long.

ok, so no my head is swimming thanks to you bvlenci... but in a good way

luckily i have 7 months to decide
fables is offline  
Feb 9th, 2014, 05:34 PM
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We love the Borghese Gallery and go every time we visit Rome...it is a small jewel box of a museum, and yes you can see the whole thing in your 2 hour allotment. It is similar to the Frick Museum in NY- small, intimate,wonderful. Because you have to have a timed ticket it never gets overly crowded as the ticketing process manages the numbers. The Vatican Museum is a must-see IMO, but is indeed very crowded- so be prepared, but how can you go to Rome and not see it?
The others are, again IMO,wonderful but secondary, so pick and choose as you like, but given your time constraints, I would go with the Vatican and the Borghese . Go see the others on subsequent trips to Rome!
el13207 is offline  
Feb 10th, 2014, 05:02 AM
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La Fornarina is in the Palazzo Barbarini.

There are some good Bruegel's in the Doria-P, along with the Velazquez Pope Innocent X.

Most of the paintings are hung chockablock throughout, though. The curator here should be pilloried for this as there is plenty of room elsewhere in the palazzo.

Do we really need to see someone's old Syrie Maugham sofa and dusty lampshades?

If you want to see a spectacular Bernini, visit Santa Vittoria Church to view The Ecstasy of Saint Therese. It's free!

The Vatican Museum is a horror movie set. What a nightmare!!!!

Visiting is like wandering the world's largest jumble sale, but instead of spying some banged-up bicycle, you see a dust-covered Tintoretto hanging on wall mapped with cracks.

You expect Vincent Price to jump out of a doorway at any given moment.

After that, you need a dry martini at the Hassler bar.

Good luck, sweetie darling.

Pepper_von_snoot is offline  
Feb 10th, 2014, 06:23 AM
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<< If you want to see a spectacular Bernini, visit Santa Vittoria Church to view The Ecstasy of Saint Therese. It's free! >>

If you want an even more spectacular Bernini, visit San Francisco a Ripa with the ecstasy of Ludovica. You can get up close. It's in the last chapel on the left and is better viewed in the afternoon because of the light.
adrienne is offline  
Feb 10th, 2014, 06:32 AM
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<< I am a novice when it comes to museums but would like to have a memorable, relaxing yet inspiring experience at a museum. >>

You can't give everything in any museum equal attention as you'll spend lots of time and will burn out quickly. Enter a gallery (room in a museum) and glance around. Look for what intrigues you and focus on that. It's not necessarily the largest work in the gallery.

Get a museum guide (docent) or audio guide to understand the important works.

Phoenix has lots of museums and many of them are free. Why not visit a few and get the hang of museums. That Railway Museum looks interesting (I'm a train fan).
adrienne is offline  
Feb 10th, 2014, 06:53 AM
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On my first visit to Rome I was with 2 friends and each morning we would set out to see some sights. By 2-3pm we had had enough and invented the term 'Romed out' to express it. Rome is the only city where I have felt this total overload of input to that degree. Your head simply can't take in and process any more.

You have 2.5 days by your count, which means you will see very little at all. On that first visit I spent 10 days in Rome and had still only scratched the surface. The Bhorgese was not pre-book at that time and no time limit was inposed. We spent an entire morning there and then went for lunch and a gelato. That was enough for one day.

Process that info and think about what you can do in 2.5 days.
dulciusexasperis is offline  
Feb 10th, 2014, 08:49 AM
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On my first visit to Rome I was with 2 friends and each morning we would set out to see some sights. By 2-3pm we had had enough and invented the term 'Romed out' to express it.>>

in this I agree with Dulcie. Unless you are used to looking at art and have a knowledge of art history, it is easy to be overwhelmed by what you are seeing, so that there is a risk that it will become a blur.

I suggest doing a variety of things every day - a museum, some shopping, lunch, perhaps a gallery or a church, a tea-shop, etc. etc. Also, do not underestimate how tired you will be at the end of a day sightseeing. Rome is very hard on the feet.

it's also worth taking time to make a note of where you've been so that when you look back on it, you have some sort of record to prompt your memory. [photos are great of course, but you often can't take them inside museums and galleries].

finally, one of the joys of Rome for me is the richness of the experiences you can have - just pop inside any church, and the likelihood is that there will be some glorious art work to admire, or something of interest. For example, in one church we found a presepe [a nativity scene] which exactly replicated the church itself and the square outside, but in C18 style, complete with "ladies of the night" and a fat priest or two. and if nothing else, chances are it will be nice and cool and you can rest your feet for a while.
annhig is offline  

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