The city of Rome is often considered to be practically an open-air museum.  You can spend many days walking to hundreds of “free” sights, such as the marvelous piazzas, the beautiful fountains, and the gorgeous churches (which, indeed, house some of the most amazing art anywhere).  There are also many free museums in Rome, and keep your eyes open for free events and entrances.  In addition, as of 2014, there is free entry for children 17 and under at 22 state-run museums, monuments and archaeological sites in Rome (including the Colosseum, Castel Sant’Angelo, and Galleria Borghese).

Note that museums, monuments, and sites may periodically close for restoration or other reasons. Consequently, it’s always a good idea to check that the place you want to go is open, as well as opening and closing hours.

Free “All the Time” Museums and Sites:

Rome already had several free museums, but seven more were added in 2014.

Accademia di San Luca

Located in Palazzo Carpegna, it houses a collection of art, the Historical Archives, the Romana Sarti Library and the Gallery, dedicated to painting. 

Museo Boncompagni Ludovisi per le Arti decorative e il Costume

Museum dedicated to the decorative arts and costume.

Museo Carlo Bilotti Aranceria di Villa Borghese

The Museo Carlo Bilotti's collection displays modern paintings, sculptures and drawings, including many works from De Chirico.  Note that there may be a small charge for temporary exhibitions.

Museo delle Anime del Purgatorio (Museum of Souls in Purgatory)

A tiny (one small room), eerie museum in the Chiesa del Sacro Cuore del Suffragio that purports to show evidence of life after death. Free, but donation requested.

Museo delle Mura (Museum of the Walls)

Located inside the Porta San Sebastiano gate, the museum displays one of the expanses of the Aurelian walls erected at the end of the 3rd century C.E., illustrating the story of these ancient fortifications. 

Museo della Repubblica Romana e della memoria garibaldina (Museum of the Roman Republic)

Located in the Porta San Pancranzo, this museum details the history, the places and the leading personalities of the Roman Republic, a fundamental moment of the Italian Risorgimento.

Museo di Scultura Antica Giovanni Barracco

Housed in the "Farnesina ai Baullari," built in 1516, the museum houses a prestigious collection of antique sculpture and art from Assyria, Egypt, Cyprus, Phoenicia, Etruria, Greece and Rome.

Museo Hendrik Christian Anderson

A museum dedicated to the sculptor is located in Villa Helene, where he lived in Rome. 

Museo Mario Praz

The preserved house museum of art critic Mario Praz (1896 – 1982), a time capsule of a mid-nineteenth century upper-class home.

Museo Napoleonico

This beautiful palazzo houses a collection of Napoleonic memorabilia. Note on occasion there may be a small fee for a temporary exhibition.

Museo Pietro Canonica 

Housed in a 17th century building in Villa Borghese, this was the home and studio of the sculptor Pietro Canonica. Opened in 1961, the Museo Pietro Canonica displays studies, drawings, mock-ups, originals and replicas.

Museo Numismatico della Zecca Italiana (the Mint Museum)

A collection of coins, medals, and other related objects from the Middle Ages to the present.

Theatre Museum SIAE del Burcardo

A museum specializing in the history of the theater, displaying sculptures, paintings, costumes, memorabilia, accessories and props, as well as marionettes and Harlequins. 

Villa di Massensio

The archaeological complex on the Appian Way consists of the Palace, the Roman Circus and the Dynastic Mausoleum, all built to celebrate Emperor Maxentius.

Free First Sunday of the Month:

In 2014, it was announced that all state-run museums and sites would be open for free on the first Sunday of the month. Those museums and sites are:

Baths of Caracalla

The ruins of one of the largest and best preserved ancient thermal bath complexes, built by Emperor Caracalla.

Castello di Giulio II
 (Castle of Julius II)

Located in Ostia, the castle is a papal fortress, completed in 1486.

Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill

In the heart of Rome’s historic center, the famous Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the heart of ancient Rome, and the lovely Palatine Hill.

Etruscan Museum (Villa Giulia)

The world’s foremost museum on the Etruscan civilization.

Galleria Borghese

One of Rome’s greatest art museums: note you still need to call ahead for limited, reserved, time-entry tickets.

Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica (Palazzo Barberini)

A great art museum in the magnificent Barberini palace.

Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica (Palazzo Corsini)

The art collection of the Corsini family.

Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna (GNAM)

Rome’s modern art museum.

Galleria Spada

Art collection located in a lovely palazzo which includes the wonderful optical illusion gallery by Borromini.

Mausoleo di Cecilia Metella

On the Appian Way, the beautiful monumental tomb made for a Roman noblewoman, and adjoining museum.

Museo Nazionale Romano (Palazzo Massimo, Palazzo Altemps, Crypta Balbi, Terme di Diocleziano)

The four tremendous museums of the National Roman Museum: Palazzo Massimo, Palazzo Altempts, the Balbi Crypt, and the Baths of Diocletian.

Museo Nazionale di Palazzo Venezia


Small art collection located inside the historic Palazzo Venezia.

Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant'Angelo

The Papal Fortress originally built as the mausoleum of the Emperor Hadrian.

Museo Nazionale delle Arti e Tradizioni Popolari


The Museum of Folk Arts and Traditions, located in EUR.

Museo Nazionale Preistorico Etnografico "L. Pigorini"

The ethnographic collections of the “Luigi Pigorini” National Prehistoric Ethnographic Museum include over sixty thousand objects produced by non-European native cultures.

Museo Nazionale degli Strumenti Musicali


A collection of musical instruments from around the world.

Museo Nazionale dell'Alto Medioevo

National Museum of the Early Middle Ages, located in EUR. 

Museo della Via Ostiense


Inside St. Paul’s Gate (Porta San Paolo) is the Museum of the Ostian Way, devoted to the history of the area between Roma and Ostia, including the ancient road system leading to Ostia.

Scavi di Ostia Antica

The fascinating archaeological site of ancient Ostia, a short train ride from Rome’s historic center.

Villa dei Quintilii

On the Appian Way, once the palace of Emperor Commodus.

 

Other museums also open periodically for free:

Museum of Coaches and Carriages at the Quirinale

Open one day per month, in the Scuderie Sabaude of the Quirinal Palace.

The Vatican Museums

The Vatican Museums are free of charge on the last Sunday of every month.  Be prepared for enormous crowds if you are going through the usual tourist route to the Sistine Chapel.  Other areas of the museums, however, can be much more manageable.

 

Keep an eye out for “Night at the Museums” free openings as well. There are also periodic free openings of various museums sponsored by the Lottery or for special events.

Resources:

http://www.buzzinrome.com 

http://freeofchargeinrome.blogspot.com (hit the “Translate” button at the top of the page)

http://www.turismoroma.it/a-roma-free...

http://www.wantedinrome.com/whats-on