Borghese Museum Guide – which Museums are worth visiting?
Villa Borghese, the vast parkland and gardens on Pincian Hill in central Rome, is home to a number of museums. The best known and most important Villa Borghese Museum is certainly the Galleria Borghese. But there are others, like the National Gallery of Modern Art and the National Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia, which are also worth visiting.
Why is this Borghese Museum so famous?
This is an easy question to answer. The Borghese Gallery is home to one of the world’s finest private art collections. Works of great artists like Bernini, Caravaggio, Raphael, Canova and Titian adorn its rooms.
In addition to the great works of art, this Villa Borghese Museum has an interesting history. The man behind the Borghese Gallery art collection is Cardinal Scipione Borghese, a nephew of Pope Paul V. It’s said that he didn’t hesitate to use this connection to acquire some of the artworks, even if it meant getting a papal order.
How the Brits discovered the Borghese collection ?
Scipione Borghese loved showing off his collection during lavish parties in Villa Borghese, his luxurious private home in the 17th century. Word of the collection (and the parties) spread to art circles across Europe. Soon, wealthy British travellers came knocking on Villa Borghese’s doors to see what all the fuss was about.
Descendents of Scipione Borghese were forced to sell his Roman sculptures and antiquities to the Emperor. The famous Borghese Gladiator left the villa at this time. Ironically, it later left Italy and can now be seen in the Louvre in Paris.
The best time to visit the most popular Villa Borghese Museum
Thanks to a unique booking system which limits admission to 360 people in 2-hourly timeslots, crowds in the Borghese Gallery are automatically controlled. Even so, there are certain timeslots and periods of the year when all 360 tickets may not be taken. As a result, there are even fewer people to compete with when viewing the artworks.
The 2-hour timeslots start at 09:00, with the last one at 17:00. If you can, avoid booking the 11:00 timeslot for your Borghese Museum visit as this seems to be the most popular one. Instead, the first and the last timeslot of the day are not always full.
Borghese Museum tips
More tips about the best time to visit the most popular Villa Borghese Museum:
- The Borghese Gallery is always closed on a Monday.
- While weekends are generally busier, good days to visit the Borghese Gallery is Tuesday to Friday.
- If you have no choice but to book the 11:00 timeslot, do so well in advance. It’s quick and easy to book online. If you’re using your Roma Pass (check price here) to enter, you can book your free time slot by calling +39 06 32810.
- Entry is free on the first Sunday of the month, so be prepared for high visitor numbers if you want to visit then.
- Arrive 30 to 45 minutes before your allotted timeslot. This way, you’ll have time to pass the security check and store big items like backpacks without rushing.
Click here to check availability and secure a skip-the-line ticket for Galleria Borghese.
Borghese Museum dress code
Because there is a strict dress code when visiting churches and religious places in Rome, many people wonder if there is a special Borghese Museum dress code. The answer is no. You won’t be shown the door if you arrive in a short and sleeveless shirt.
However, even though there is no strict Borghese Museum dress code, you should keep temperature changes in mind. In summer, it can be extremely hot walking around in Villa Borghese Park. But because of the air conditioning in the Borghese Museums, you may need something to cover your arms when inside.
National Gallery of Modern Art
Italy’s National Gallery of Modern Art is on the outskirts of Villa Borghese Park, with the main entrance in Via Belle Arti. The building which houses this Borghese Museum was designed by renowned architect Cesare Bazzani and built to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the unification of Italy.
The National Gallery of Modern Art is filled with works by accomplished national and international innovators in technique and style. The 20th century painters’ exhibit contains work by Sironi, Balla, Guttuso, and Boccioni. Visitors will also stand in awe of sculptures by Pollock, Martini, Andreotti, and Tapier.
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 08:30 to 19:30.
Ticket Prices: €10
National Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia
This Villa Borghese Museum is a beautiful Renaissance palace or 16th century Villa built for Pope Julius III. Today, it is a museum known for its important artworks as well as its beautiful garden setting.
Must-see works in the National Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia are the famous Apollo of Veio from the 6th century B.C., the Vulci bronzes, and the husband and wife sarcophagi from Cerveteri.
An interesting itinerary when visiting the National Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia is the subterranean trip under the villa which includes Pope Julius III’s “neviera” or underground freezer.
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 08:30 to 19:30
Ticket Prices: €10
Museo Pietro Canonica
The Museo Pietro Canonica is an interesting Villa Borghese Museum housed in an 18th century building that was later home to artist Pietro Canonica. Canonica donated all his works to the city of Rome. In return, they created the museum in his honor.
The Museo Pietro Canonica is also home to around 80 sculptures from the Borghese Collection which originally served to decorate Villa Borghese Park. They were removed between 1986 and 1999 and replaced by copies.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 09:00 to 19:00
Ticket Prices: Free Entrance
Are the Roma Pass and Omnia Card worth it for visiting a Borghese Museum?
The National Gallery of Modern Art and National Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia are included in the Roma Pass. But, the Borghese Museums not anymore.
Even though you don’t use your Roma Pass for free entry to the National Gallery of Modern Art and the National Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia, the pass will allow you to receive a discount on the regular entry fees.
Click here to buy your Roma Pass now so you can hit the ground running after arriving in the Eternal City.
Villa Borghese is perhaps most famous for the impressive artworks in the Borghese Gallery. However, there are other important Borghese Museums in Rome’s 3rd largest public park. Art lovers will be sorry not to include the National Gallery of Modern Art, the National Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia, and the Museo Pietro Canonica in their itinerary when visiting Rome.
What’s more is that entry to the Borghese Gallery is discounted with the Rome Tourist Card. And there is no Borghese Museum dress code cramping your style!