The birth of the Capitoline Museums dates back to 1471, when Pope Sixtus IV gave the Roman people a group of bronze statues conserved until then at the Lateran , which constituted the initial nucleus of the collection. The collections were subsequently increased by the popes with works from the excavations in Rome, from the Vatican or purchased specifically for the museum, such as the Albani collection .
The archaeological collections were considerably enriched at the end of the 19th century with the discoveries of the excavations for the construction of entire districts of the city, which became the capital of Italy.
The collections of the Capitoline Museums are exhibited in the two buildings which, together with the Palazzo Senatorio , delimit the piazza del Campidoglio , the Palazzo dei Conservatori and the Palazzo Nuovo , connected to each other by an underground gallery which houses the Galleria Lapidaria and leads to the ancient Tabularium , whose monumental arches overlook the Roman Forum.
The collections of ancient sculptures, the result of the collecting of the great noble families of past centuries, are conserved in the Palazzo Nuovo : the collections of busts of philosophers and Roman emperors are very famous, the statue of the dying Galata , the Capitoline Venus and the imposing statue of Marforio which dominates the courtyard.
The Palazzo dei Conservatori shows the original architectural nucleus of the building, decorated with splendid frescoes with the stories of Rome and ennobled by the presence of the ancient Capitoline bronzes: the Lupa , the Spinario , the Capitoline Brutus .
The large glazed hall recently built on the first floor of the building houses the bronze equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius , formerly in the Capitoline square, and the imposing remains of the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus , flanked by a section dedicated to the most ancient history of the Capitoline Hill.
On the second floor, the Pinacoteca Capitolina presents, in a chronologically ordered itinerary from the late Middle Ages to the eighteenth century, works of great importance, such as the paintings by Caravaggio , the large canvas The Burial of Santa Petronilla by Guercino and a substantial nucleus of paintings by Guido Reni and Pietro da Cortona .
In the Palazzo Caffarelli-Clementino houses the Capitoline Medagliere, with the precious collections of coins, medals, gems and jewels, as well as a space dedicated to temporary exhibitions.
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