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AUR 1920 x 116
AUR 1920 x 116
Marymount - International School Rome

The women in charge of Rome's museums

On International Women's Day we highlight Rome's leading museums and archaeological sites that are run by women.

Everybody knows that Rome is home to some of the world's greatest museums but not every one is aware that the management of the city's cultural heritage lies largely in the hands of women.

This is something to celebrate - and not just on Giornata Internazionale della Donna - as Italy strives to improve its gender equality record.

So who are the women in charge of Rome's museums?

Art historian Mariastella Margozzi is the director of state museums in the city of Rome and the national museum at Castel S. Angelo. Her career began at the Royal Palace at Caserta where she oversaw the 18th- and 19th-century sculpture collections, before moving to the National Gallery of Modern Art (GNAM) in Rome where she was in charge of the 20th-century collections of painting and sculpture. She is a leading expert on Palma Bucarelli, the legendary director of GNAM from 1942 to 1975.

Mariastella Margozzi


When the Colosseum Archaeological Park was established in 2017, archaeologist Alfonsina Russo beat 77 other candidates to land the new role of managing the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill and Domus Aurea. Since she took up her post, Russo has spearheaded multiple restorations, dynamic cultural projects, digital innovations and opened up previously inaccessible areas of the Palatine Hill - leading a team of women archaeologists and restorers.

Alfonsina Russo. Photo Corriere della Sera.


In 2016 Pope Francis appointed Babara Jatta as the first woman director of the Vatican Museums which includes the Sistine Chapel. A specialist in art history, Jatta has undertaken numerous restoration projects including the frescoes in the Raphael Rooms. She has also raised the profile of one of the world's most prestigious museums and is the most prominent female administrator in the Vatican.

Barbara Jatta. Photo Huffington Post.


Villa Borghese, home to a priceless collection of works by Bernini, Caravaggio and Raphael, is directed by professor of modern art history Francesca Cappelletti who took over in late 2020 from the long-standing director Anna Coliva. Within her first few months Cappelletti acquired a Guido Reni painting for the Villa Borghese collection and since then has launched a series of new digital programmes and staged major exhibitions.

Francesca Cappelletti. Photo La Repubblica.


Rome art historian Flaminia Gennari Santori is the director of the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica which encompasses both the Palazzo Barberini and the Galleria Corsini, between them home to countless masterpieces. Her career includes work and research in several US museums and she is the author of numerous publications on the history of collecting art.

Flaminia Gennari Santori. Photo Leggo.


Edith Gabrielli is the first director of the newly-created autonomous museum in the capital which combines the Vittoriano and Palazzo Venezia. A scholar of art history and museology, Gabrielli has a long career within the ranks of Italy's culture ministry, becoming its youngest historic art director in 2010.

Edith Gabrielli


Women also play a leading role in the contemporary art world in Rome, running private art galleries such as Galleria Valentina Bonomo, Maja Arte Contemporanea and the Dorothy Circus Gallery.

Chiostro del Bramante, an extraordinary example of High Renaissance architecture designed by Donato Bramante in 1500, is today a well-known art museum hosting major exhibitions. The Chiostro is run by three sisters: Laura, Giulia and Natalia de Marco, who have staged around 45 shows - ranging from Turner to Banksy - since the building's restoration in 1996.

Giulia, Natalia and Laura de Marco


The Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea (GNAM) hosts Italy's national collection of modern art and is run by Cristiana Collu. Since her appointment in 2015, Collu has put her own distinctive stamp on the gallery, re-imagining its spaces, re-arranging its collections, hosting numerous exhibitions by contemporary artists and increasing the gallery's profile on social media.

Cristiana Collu


To celebrate the 2022 edition of Festa della Donna, women will have free entry to Italy's state museums and archaeological sites, with numerous cultural events being held in RomeMilan and across Italy.

By Andy Devane

Originally published on 8 March 2021, updated on 8 March 2023. Cover photo La Repubblica.

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Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia