A rotating collection displayed over two floors recounts the evolution of the Eternal City from the Middle Ages to the early 20th century. Paintings and drawings include portraits of Roman movers and shakers, and views of what the city looked like before 17th- and 19th-century building projects, such as the banchine flood walls along the Tiber, dramatically changed it.
Sculpture, clothing, furniture and photographs help to put the city's monuments in a human context, and oddities like the Braschi family sedan chair (used by Pius VI) and the papal railway carriage (used by more recent pontiffs) round out the collection. The palazzo was built by Luigi Braschi (nephew of 18th-century Pope Pius VI) in one of the last great flurries of papal nepotism. Sold to the Italian state in 1871 and intended to house the Interior Ministry, the palazzo later became the Fascist party HQ. The bookshop is well stocked, and the reading room has a selection of Rome-oriented reference books (in Italian).