10 of the best exhibitions in Rome this Winter

by Andrea Gambaro  |  Published November 12, 2020

Despite the incredible historical heritage of Rome, it would be wrong to assume its cultural scene only revolves around the glories of the past. Leading institutions such as the MAXXI (National Museum of Contemporary Art) host cutting-edge shows of international standing, as do smaller contemporary art galleries scattered across the city.

The MAXXI national museum of contemporary art (Photo: Fred Romero via Flickr / CC BY 2.0)

Are you planning a visit to the Eternal City this winter and are keen to take in an exhibition or two during your stay? From archaeology, painting, photography and ancient sculptures to contemporary art shows, these are some of the best exhibitions to see in Rome this winter.

Bansky: a Visual Protest

This large retrospective covers Bansky’s work from 2001 to 2017, the period that saw the rise to prominence of the anonymous artist. Over 100 works retrace the (it is thought) Bristolian’s path from his first solo shows to becoming the world’s most influential street artist, known for his powerful combination of irony, protest and social commentary. The prestigious Chiostro del Bramante cultural space plays host to the exhibition, which includes stencil work, oil on canvas, resin sculpture and other artistic techniques.

LOCATION Chiostro del Bramante – Arco della Pace, 5 DATES Through 11 April 2021

‘Welcome Mat’, 2019 (Photo: Ufficio Stampa Adelaide Corbetta courtesy of Chiostro del Bramante)

The Torlonia Marbles. Collecting Masterpieces.

Comprising over 600 pieces, the Torlonia is one of the world’s most important private collections of ancient sculptures. A selection of its masterpieces is now on display at the Capitoline Museums, more than 40 years after they were last available for public viewing. Around 90 Roman and Greek marbles form a narrative which unfolds across five sections, presenting visitors with a compelling account of the history of sculpture collecting. Come and marvel at this once-endangered treasure brought back to light in a brand new exhibition space.

LOCATION Villa Caffarelli – Via di Villa Caffarelli DATES Through 16 June 2021

A room of ‘Torlonia Marbles’ (Photo: Oliver Astrologo courtesy of Electa Musei)

Fractals and Fragments

‘Fractals and Fragments’ explores ethnicity, identity and memory through the work of six US-based, African-American artists. The mathematical concept of fractals serves as a framework to reflect on the complexity of the themes involved, addressed both in their collective and segmented dimensions. Fragments of African-American diaspora are translated by the artists into sculpture, painting, photography and collage. The exhibition is part of a series called ‘Parallels and Peripheries’, the first edition to be held outside the US.

LOCATION Galleria Anna Marra – Via di Sant’Angelo in Pescheria, 32 DATES Through 30 January 2021

Lina Bo Bardi – A Marvellous Entanglement

English artist and filmmaker Isaac Julien pays homage to the Italo-Brazilian architect Lina Bo Bardi through an impressive, nine-channel film installation. Born in Rome in 1913, Bo Bardi moved to Brasil after World War 2, where she achieved some of her most important architectural accomplishments. These include the São Paulo Museum of Art, featured in the installation along with other iconic buildings. The film takes inspiration from the architect’s letters, interpreted by prominent Brazilian actresses Fernanda Montenegro and Fernanda Torres.

LOCATION MAXXI National Museum of 21st Century Art – Via Guido Reni, 4a DATES Through 17 January 2021

The nine-channel film installation at MAXXI (Photo: Musacchio, Ianniello, Pasqualini courtesy of MAXXI)

The Architect and the Cities

Celebrating the innovative views of architect Aldo Rossi, this exhibition features materials from the MAXXI archives as well as from archives and collections across the world. Drawings, writings and spectacular models provide a rich account of Rossi’s theoretical and practical output, which breathed new life into the international architectural discourse. The show focuses on the architect’s involvement in the reconstruction of Berlin and the debate about Barcelona, as part of his commitment to the most pressing issues of urban contemporary life.

LOCATION MAXXI National Museum of 21st Century Art – Via Guido Reni, 4a DATES 17 December 2020 – 28 August 2021


Hosted at the Ara Pacis Museum, this exhibition features the ‘Vestiges’ project by Czech photographer Josef Koudelka. Twenty years in the making, the ambitious project seeks to fully unveil the beauty concealed in the remains of ancient Rome and Greece, turning the melancholy of archaeological sites into a message of hope. An unprecedented exploration spanning over 200 sites across the Mediterranean region, suitably displayed near the famous Altar of Augustan Peace.

LOCATION Museo dell’Ara Pacis, Via di Ripetta, 190/180 DATES 1 January – 11 April 2021

The Shapes of Time

Born in Valencia, Spain, Spanish artist Manolo Valdés became known during the 1960s for his playful and visionary figurative research, which finds original ways to interpret the artists of the past. This large solo show comes 25 years after his last exhibition in Rome, featuring paintings and sculptures from private collections as well as the artist’s studio. The display focuses on Valdés’ art from the early 1980s until today, with around 70 works hosted in the elegant halls of Palazzo Cipolla.

LOCATION Palazzo Cipolla – Via del Corso DATES Through 10 January 2021


A group exhibition of contemporary art, ‘WE HYBRIDS!’ brands itself as “both a statement and a thesis”. Six young artists reflect on the multifaceted concept of hybridity and its relation to contemporary life, each of them addressing a different aspect of the intersections between humans, technology and the biological world. The media featured within the show range from installations and paintings to performance and sculptures, some of which are inspired by sci-fi literature and imagery. Hosted by the cultural centre Istituto Svizzero, the show also includes a site-specific installation in the venue’s garden.

LOCATION Istituto Svizzero – Via Ludovisi, 48 DATES Through 21 January 2021

Installation view of ‘WE HYBRIDS!’ (Photo: OKNOstudio courtesy of the artists and Istituto Svizzero, Roma/Milano)

Per Gioco

Per Gioco features over 700 vintage toys, most of which date back to the so-called ‘golden age’ of toys (1860-1930). Arranged across 22 rooms, the display is divided into themed areas such as ‘work’, ‘travel’ and ‘the city and the country’. The ‘family’ section includes a 17th-century dollhouse once belonging to the Queen of Sweden, one of the oldest items on display, along with two pre-Inca dolls. Eighty-four books form part of the children’s library, which features fascinating pop-up books and ‘talking’ books.

LOCATION Museo di Roma – Piazza di San Pantaleo, 10, Piazza Navona, 2 DATES Through 10 January

The Republican Rome

The second chapter of a series called ‘The Tale of Archaeology’, this exhibition explores the evolution of the arts during the republican period of Ancient Rome (5th to 1st centuries BC) – five centuries during which the changes in aesthetic canons mirrored the increasing prestige gained by the political elites, resulting in a gradual transition from Etruscan to Greek influences. The rich display of statues and archaeological finds also shows the rise of a distinctive Roman style which went on to define the subsequent imperial era.

LOCATION Palazzo Caffarelli – Piazza del Campidoglio, 1 DATES 12 December 2020 – 31 July 2021