This collection is housed in a building constructed in 1613 for Cardinal Scipione Borghese, one of Bernini's greatest patrons... More
Museo e Galleria Borghese
This collection is housed in a building constructed in 1613 for Cardinal Scipione Borghese, one of Bernini's greatest patrons. In fact, this great sculptor has exhibited some of his most famous sculptures here; amongst them is the renowned Apollo and Daphne. When one thinks of the Museo Borghese, the sculpture that immediately springs to mind is Canova's Pauline Borghese, in which she poses as Venus, wearing just a drape around her midriff. There are six major pieces by Caravaggio in the Galleria, including The Boy with a Basket of Fruit and the Madonna della Serpe. Titian is also represented with Sacred and Profane Love, Raphael with The Deposition, and there are important works by Correggio. The gallery can only hold 300 visitors at a time, so it is advisable to book in advance.
This was a fabulous collection of artwork. The pieces were collected over the years by the Borghese family, but was picked over by Napolean when he came through Italy. What he left behind, however, was spectacular. There are sculptures I saw there which were very memorable - Apollo and Daphne had leaves sculpted from marble that were translucent - The Rape of the Sabine was so lifelike - you could see the Roman's hand pressing into the thigh of the Sabine woman. There are so many that it is hard to list them all.
I strongly suggest getting the audio tour. Also, you are only allowed to stay in the museum for a limited period of time - this is to keep the people flowing through - so don't dawdle too long in front of your favorite piece or you might miss something else equally spectacular!
This museum is hands down my favorite in Rome. Tickets are timed (you can stay in for I think two hours), which is unfortunate, as there is a lot of great stuff, particularly Baroque, to see. Some of Caravaggio's, and Bernini's best stuff is kept here. The official painting gallery upstairs is skippable, especially if you really want to get a good look at the works on the main floor (there are paintings kept there, too, and unless you're an art history major, the works in the official painting gallery won't mean much). If you're in Rome for a week, there's no reason not to check out the gallery (especially since you can wander around the park then, as well).