This museum was founded in 1471 by Pope Sextus IV with the donation to the Roman people of bronze statues of the Lateran (the She-Wolf, the Spinario, the Camillo and the enormous head of emperor Constantine with the hand and globe of power).It is considered to be the oldest national museum in the world; the return of these works - a sign of Rome’s former grandeur - to the people of the city, therefore made it acquire a higher symbolic value, in so far as the Campidoglio had always been the centre of the religious life of ancient Rome and, after a long period of neglect, it became the seat of the civil courts in the Middle Ages. These sculptures were at first placed on the façade and in the courtyard of the Palazzo dei Conservatori and, subsequently, many works from excavation campaigns came to be part of the collection, including the statue of Hercules in gilded bronze found in the Foro Boario, fragments of the colossal statue of Constantine originally placed in the Basilica of Maxentius in the Roman Forum, the three panels in relief with the exploits of Marcus Aurelius which were moved in 1515 from the church of Saints Luca and Martina to the Forum and the so-called Bruto Capitolino. The original historical nature of the Capitoline collection was interrupted, however, in 1566, when Pope Pius V, who wanted to remove all the images of pagan idols from the Vatican, donated over 140 ancient statues to the Campidoglio, transforming the museum into a large collection of classical sculpture. In 1654 the construction of the Palazzo Nuovo - as part of Michelangelo’s brilliant plan for the restoration of the whole square - permitted the transfer of many statues.
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