Museo Nazionale Romano: Palazzo Massimo alle Terme
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Museo Nazionale Romano: Palazzo Massimo alle Terme information
A treasure trove of classical art, the light-filled Palazzo Massimo alle Terme is one of Rome's finest galleries.
There's some incredibly fine sculpture on the ground and 1st floors, including the 1st century BC Boxer and Prince, the 2nd-century BC Sleeping Hermaphrodite, and the idealised Discus Thrower. Yet the mosaics and frescoes on the 2nd floor are even more mesmerising.
The layout has been revamped so that the rooms are arranged how they were within the villas, and lighting brings out the rich colours of the frescoes. There are intimate cubicula (bedrooms), which feature religious, erotic and theatre subjects, and delicate landscape paintings from the dark-painted winter triclinium (dining room). Particularly breathtaking are the frescoes (dating from 30 BC to 20 BC) that once lined Villa Livia, one of the homes of Augustus' wife Livia Drusilla. These, covering an entire room, depict an illusionary, realistic yet paradisiacal garden full of a wild tangle of roses, pomegranates, iris and camomile under a deep-blue sky. They once decorated a summer triclinium , a large living and dining area built half underground to provide protection from the heat. The new display includes special lighting that mimics the modulation of daylight and highlights the richness of the millennia-old colours.
The upper floors also show some painterly mosaics and rare inlay work. Don't neglect the museum's basement, too, with its fascinating coin collection, ancient jewellery and (not for the squeamish) the disturbing mummy of a child.