The Orangery was known, in the eighteenth century, as the House of Water Games because of the fountains and nymphaeums found there, and the spectacularly laid out Garden of the Lake which surrounds it. In the richly decorated and furnished rooms the Borghese princes organized parties and fashionable events. Following the serious damage caused by cannon bombardment in 1849, during the French defence of the papacy against the Roman Republic, the building was freely reconstructed and adapted for growing citrus fruits in winter, losing in the process all of its precious decorations.
After decades of decline and improper use as offices, the Orangery has once again become a place of recreation and culture, thanks to a challenging restoration, which has transformed it into a museum to receive a permanent gift of works of art, including paintings, sculpture and sketches, from Carlo Bilotti, an internationally famous Italio-american buyer and collector. The donation consists of twenty-two works. The nucleus is a collection of paintings and sculptures by Giorgio de Chirico, a representative selection of the artist's most famous subjects between the Twenties and the Seventies. Also included are a portrait of Carlo Bilotti by the American artist Larry Rivers, a portrait of Tina and Lisa Bilotti done in 1981 by the master of Pop Art, Andy Warhol, 'Summer' by Gino Severini and finally 'The High Cardinal', a work in bronze by Giacomo Manzù.
To ensure that the museum is always open to new developments in contemporary art, spaces for temporary exhibitions have been included next to the room occupied by the permanent exhibition.
The creation of the Bilotti Museum is an exemplary example of public-private collaboration. As a new cultural institution it represents another piece in the project to transform the Villa Borghese into a Park of Museums, a place specially devoted to artistic and cultural experiences.
Museo Carlo Bilotti Aranciera di Villa Borghese
Viale Fiorello La Guardia - 00100 Roma
Tuesday-Sunday 9.00am-7.00am; 24th and 31st December 9.00am-2.00pm (the ticket office closes half an hour in advance)
Monday, 1st January, 1st May and 25th December