Dutch artist Johanne Vermeers 1667 work The Love Letter is on show for the first time in Rome, at Palazzo Barberini, which houses Italys national collection of ancient art.

The event marks the opening of space returned to the national museum by the officers club of the ministry of the defence, which has been occupying a part of the building for the past 70 years. The rooms have been transformed and refurbished with financing from the ministry of arts and cultural heritage and with money from the lottery company, Lottomatica.

At the presentation of Vermeers painting, on loan from the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam until 18 June, the museum also announced that a new 17th-century baroque garden will open shortly and that an exhibition, entitled Bernini Pittore, is planned for early 2007. The aim is to turn Palazzo Barberini into a single museum of state-owned 16th and 17th century art in Rome.

Galleria di Arte Antica di Palazzo Barberini, Via Quattro Fontane 13, tel. 0632810. 08.30-19.30. Mon closed.