Fin de siècle atmosphere in this small but valuable Museum, in the heart of Villa
Borghese and dedicated to the artist Pietro Canonica (1869-1959). Sculptor of international reputation, composer and music lover himself, he spent his formative years
in Turin in the last years of the 19th century, prior to a long period passed in the courts of Europe, where he received several commissions from the aristocracy such as portraits and commemorative monuments. He, already renowned, moved to Rome, and in 1927 managed to get the municipal concession for the building that today is the museum. He used it as his home and atelier, undertaking in exchange that, when he died, he would leave all the works that he collected there over the years to furnish it as a museum in his name. That was the origin of this unusual museum, which gives all aspects of Canonica’s life, both private and professional.
There are different perspectives that this Museum offers to its visitors: the private apartment, rich in valuable furnishings and paintings of the 19th century, tells the deep universe of memories and affections of the artist; the atelier, place of inspiration and creativity, testifies to the technical expertise of the artist; the exhibition halls, where you can admire a large part of his work: sketches, models, casts and sculptures in a gallery that represents the tumultuous history between the end of the 19th and first half of the 20th century, and gives an overview of different techniques of sculpture.
Just like a book, this Museum offers different chapters for the visitor to discover:
Pietro Canonica's private apartment on the first floor, with its wealth of exquisite furnishings and nineteenth century Piedmont paintings, represents the intimate universe of the artist's memories and personal effects; the sculptor's studio on the ground floor, which still constitutes a vibrant and palpable source of inspiration. It is also testament to Canonica's technical expertise, who at the age of ninety had left his spatulas still covered with clay and plaster in front of his last endeavour, the sketch he was making of the monument at Paisiello; finally the various exhibition halls where visitors can admire a wide range of his artwork: sketches, models, casts, sculptures, from the smaller busts to the large equestrian statues, which in addition to taking us through the tumultuous history at the end of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, also provide a teaching-learning opportunity on the different stages and processes in the art of sculpture.
The life of Pietro Canonica dedicated entirely to art, and art handed back in its entirety to the public.
Referred to as the “Hen House” in seventeenth century documents, it was used to rear ostriches, peacocks and ducks. The current name comes from the characteristic Medieval palisaded turret, dating back to the end of the eighteenth century. The Museum hosts cultural events and exhibitions: conferences, conventions, concerts, book or magazine presentations. It houses a library of about 2200 books, consisting partly of the artist's own private collection, and partly by newly acquired publications specialising in sculpture and the figurative arts from the XIX and XX centuries. There is also an extensive photographic archive available.
The sculptures' storeroom at Villa Borghese near to the Pietro Canonica Museum
The sculptures' storeroom at Villa Borghese includes around eighty works originating mainly from the Borghese Collection, which were originally used to decorate the park. Between 1986 and 1999, the sculptures were removed from their original locations and replaced with copies. The artworks themselves were stored inside the Pietro Canonica Museum.
The current exhibition area consists of an open space, housing the sculptures that it was not possible to move inside due to their size. There is also a closed section that has been designed and fitted in a way that can house as many artworks as possible, while still allowing access to the equipment needed to transport the sculptures when they are given on loan or need restoring.
- October-May: 10.00 - 16.00 (last admission: 15.30);
- June-September: 13.00 -19.00 (last admission:18.30);
Monday: closed; 25 December, 1 May
Storage of sculptures is open during the opening hours of the Museum
Please Note: please check our Notice page for special openings and/or temporary closures.