The National Roman Museum – Altemps Palace is located within the fifteenth-century Palace built by Girolamo Riario and passed over to the Altemps family in 1568. It belonged to the Holy See from 1887 and housed the Spanish College.
It was purchased by the Italian State in 1982 to house the National Roman Museum. It was opened to the public in 1997 after complex restorations that brought to light important frescoes of the fourteenth-eighteenth century and exhibits extraordinary collections of ancient sculptures (Boncompagni Ludovisi, Altemps, Del Drago, Mattei, and Brancaccio) and an Egyptian collection.
The collection was started in the years 1621-1623 by cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi, nephew of Pope Gregory the Fifteenth, for his country-house on the Quirinal. In consequence of the urbanization of the zone performed at the end of the nineteenth century, the villa disappeared and in 1901 the Italian State purchased the most important part of the collection from the Boncompagni Ludovisi heirs and exhibited it firstly in the complex of the Thermae of Diocletian and lastly in Palazzo Altemps.
The sculptures, disseminated on the ground floor, the first floor, and the courtyard of the Palace, enrich all the spaces, rooms, halls, and corridors. Decorations of grapes and deer’s heads, heraldic emblem of the Altemps family, are recurrent on ceilings, trabeations, and vaults.
The works exhibited include the group of the Galatian killing himself after having killed his wife (that constituted a single group with the Dying Galatian exhibited at the Capitoline Museums); the Sarcophagus and the Ludovisi Throne, Athena restored by Algardi and Ares completed by Bernini.