Villa Wolkonsky opens archeological museum

Museum established at residence of British ambassador in Rome

A small museum housing a collection of over 350 ancient Roman marble artefacts was presented at Villa Wolkonsky, the residence of the British ambassador in Rome, in the presence of Italy's culture minister Dario Franceschini and Britain's ambassador Christopher Prentice, on 10 December.

The marble treasures in the Wolkonsky Collection include votive statues of goddesses, sarcophogi decorated with bas-relief, funerary portraits, friezes, architectural elements and inscriptions, almost all from burials dating from between the first century BC and the third century AD.

A particular highlight of the collection is the life-size statue known as the Music Satyr, which was reassembled from 15 fragments found in various place around the villa's four-hectare gardens in the S. Giovanni district of Rome.

The majority of the artefacts were rediscovered on the grounds during an extensive restoration programme of the gardens, led by dedicated gardener and wife of the present ambassador, Nina Prentice, who described the process in Wanted in Rome last year.

The restored finds have been placed in two converted 19th-century greenhouses situated near the entrance gate on the villa's grounds.

Visiting the museum will not interfere with security arrangements for the residence, according to the embassy, which is planning to open the collection to guided tours for small groups.