The birth of the Capitoline Museums dates back to 1471, when Pope Sixtus IV donated to the people of Rome a group of bronze statues, which formed the initial core of the collection. The collections were later increased by the popes with works found during the excavations carried on in Rome and its sorroundings or specifically purchased.
The Museums’ collections are exhibited in the two buildings that line the square: the Palazzo dei Conservatori and the Palazzo Nuovo, connected by an underground tunnel which houses the Lapidary Gallery and leads to the ancient Tabularium, whose monumental arcades overlook the Roman Forum.
In the New Palace, in a sort of fascinating museum essentially unchanged since the 18th century, are housed the famous collections of busts of Roman emperors and philosophers, the statue of Dying Gaul, the Capitoline Venus, and the imposing statue of Marforio overlooking the courtyard. Across the square, in the Palace of the Conservatori, the rooms of the original building, decorated with splendid frescoes with stories of Rome
and ennobled by the presence of the Popes’ statues, houses the ancient Capitoline bronzes: the Wolf, the Spinario, the Capitoline Brutus. The large glass covered hall recently built on the first floor of the building houses the
original bronze equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, once on the Piazza, and the imposing ruins of the Temple of Jupiter, along with a section dedicated to the oldest history of the city. The Museums include a renowned collections of ancient roman coins, medals, gems and jewelry.