Rome is packed with wonderful art museums and if you are visiting with kids, you may worry their presence may hinder your chances of an art-filled holiday.
Indeed, kids and museums are not always a match made in heaven. The Vatican museums, for instance, are really hard to visit with kids, to such an extent we devote an entire article just to that experience.
However, Rome has some great museums that are great for kids too and that will please visitors of all ages.
This is my selection of the best museums in Rome for children.
A wonderful Rome museum to visit with children and one I recommend everyone to visit, at absolutely any age, is the unique and wonderful Centrale Montemartini.
This museum is located in the Ostiense area of Rome, immediately outside Rome city center and off the beaten path, detached from the city’s main tourist sites.
It is worth seeing for its exhibits but also for its unusual structure: Centrale Montemartini is an old electric plant turned art space!
The museum is one of a kind. The old electric plant has been in use until a few decades ago and it is still very much intact.
As you enter the museum’s large spaces, you see its incredible machines, the large tubes criss-crossing the ceilings and you find yourself face to face with these large monsters from the industrial past, dark and mighty in their utilitarian design.
Around the machines the most unexpected artifacts are on show: Centrale Montemartini is part of the Rome city museums network and has wonderful ancient Roman statues, bas-relieves and even gorgeous Roman mosaics, some of the most interesting mosaics in Rome actually!.
It is hard not to fall for the spell of this place.
Adults will love the contrast between old and new, the unexpected harmony between the exquisite art of the ancient sculptors and the industrial soul of the place.
Kids are likely to enjoy not just this but also the Papal carriage from the old Pope Train that the museum hosts!
Location: Via Ostiense, 106, 00154 Roma RM, Italy
The museum is a space for adults but is interesting and easy to enjoy for kids too (in case you are worried about the machines, everything here is very clean and well kept)
Welcome to Rome
Welcome to Rome is a small permanent exhibition great to visit with kids thanks to the use of virtual reality, which makes the museum installations come to life.
The museum wants to show visitors the development of some of Rome’s main buildings over the centuries and does that with a mix of light, computer and movie aids.
On arrival, each visitor gets a small audio guide and (simple) instructions on how to activate it in front of each exhibit.
When you are ready, you stand in front of what looks like a black screen and then you slowly see the building come to life: in front of your eyes, light forms 3D renditions of the Vatican, Castel St Angelo, Roman Forum and the audio guide explains how the centuries shaped and changed the look and use of the buildings.
At the end, a movie in the small museum theater explains with wonderful images the history of Rome and gives visual clues on the city layout and growth over the centuries.
This is one of my favorite museums to visit in Rome with kids and one that only requires a short time to enjoy (an hour or so).
Address: Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, 203, 00186 Roma
Galleria Borghese is one of the most famous art galleries in Rome if not the world and it is as such a place aimed at art lovers rather than kids.
Galleria Borghese has many important and interesting sculptures, many inspired by ancient myths and stories of the Gods and depicting metamorphosis and well known mythological characters.
Older kids may recognize them from topics covered in school but younger kids may also find them interesting thanks to the several animal references.
Without a guide, it is hard to tap into the kids’ friendly side of this gallery but there are family tours catering for kids as young as 6 years of age and the gallery lends itself to them perfectly. They are offered by a company called Family Travel Italy – their website is under construction but if you are interested, I can put you in touch!
Address: Piazzale Scipione Borghese, 5, 00197 Roma (inside the park)
The Roman Houses of Palazzo Valentini
Palazzo Valentini is an elegant Palazzo in Rome city center hiding a secret: under it, one ‘floor’ under street level, archaeologists found some well preserved Roman houses that are now open to the public.
The houses are a very interesting sight to visit and are shown with a peculiar system: rather than walking into them, you walk above them, on walkaways made of Plexiglas!
As you enter, you walk a couple of meters above floor level and you see the different rooms of each house, some of the remaining decorated floors and their layout.
To give a clearer idea of what the houses used to look like, a light system is in place that projects on the wall what the different rooms would have looked like and make you feel like you are inside them.
Walking on the Plexiglas is pretty disconcerting for an adult and challenging (if not out of the question) if you are afraid of heights but it is a thrill for kids.
The attraction is suitable mostly for older kids as the darkness in between light shows can be scary for some and the pace of the tour quite slow for children too young to have a long attention span.
Address: Foro Traiano, 85, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
The Trajan forum museum
In front of what is usually referred to as the ‘Roman Forum’ lies an important building: the forum of emperor Trajan.
While technically part of the Roman forum, as the name suggests, this area has a separate entrance from the rest of the archaeological park and includes an excellent museum that tells the story not just of Trajan’s power and Rome’s growth but also of how the city in general and this building in particular changed over the course of the centuries.
I love visiting this museum with kids because it has both indoor and outdoor exhibitions area and very good info panels, something missing in the main forum.
It also allows them to walk along ancient streets and this will give them a real sense of what living in those times must have felt like. The forum is also just beside Trajan’s column, which is considered the ‘first film in history’ as can be quite a hit with kids.
The museum is suitable mostly for kids who can walk and do not need a buggy: the old Roman Cobbles are not stroller friendly.
Good to know: this is a great place if you are looking to escape the rain in Rome.
I hope you found this overview useful and it helped to answer the question: what are the best art museums in Rome for kids?