This museum dates from 1937, when Mussolini mounted a massive celebration to mark the second millennium of Augustus becoming the first emperor. The fact that the celebration came about 35 years too early was overlooked by il Duce, who was eager to draw parallels between Augustus' glory and his own. With its blank white walls and lofty, echoing corridors, the building is Fascist-classical at its most grandiloquent.
There's a fascinating cutaway model of the Colosseum's maze of tunnels and lifts, as well as casts of the intricate reliefs on Trajan's column. The centrepiece is a giant model of Rome in the fourth century AD, which puts Rome's scattered fragments and artefacts into context very helpfully. The palazzo also contains the new Museo Astronomico and a planetarium.