National Archaeological Museum

Naples, Italy

The National Archaeological Museum of Naples is an important Italian archaeological museum, particularly for ancient Roman remains. Its collection includes works from Greek, Roman and Renaissance times, and especially Roman artifacts from nearby Pompeii, Stabiae and Herculaneum.

The building was built as a cavalry barracks in 1585. From 1616 to 1777 it was the seat of the University of Naples. During the 19th century, after it became museum, it suffered many changes to the main structure.

The museum hosts extensive collections of Greek and Roman antiquities. Their core is from the Farnese Collection, which includes a collection of engraved gems (including the Farnese Cup, a Ptolemaic bowl made of sardonyx agate and the most famous piece in the 'Treasure of the Magnificent', and is founded upon gems collected by Cosimo de' Medici and Lorenzo il Magnifico in the 15th century) and the Farnese Marbles. Among the notable works found in the museum are the Herculaneum papyri, carbonized by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, found after 1752 in Villa of the Papyri.

The greater part of the museum's classical sculpture collection largely comes from the Farnese Marbles, important since they include Roman copies of classical Greek sculpture, which are in many cases the only surviving indications of what the lost works by ancient Greek sculptors such as Calamis, Kritios and Nesiotes looked like. Many of these works, especially the larger ones, have been moved to the Museo di Capodimonte for display in recent years.

The museum's Mosaic Collection includes a number of important mosaics recovered from the ruins of Pompeii and the other Vesuvian cities. This includes the Alexander Mosaic, dating from circa 100 BC, originally from the House of the Faun in Pompeii. It depicts a battle between the armies of Alexander the Great and Darius III of Persia. Another mosaic found is that of the gladiatorial fighter depicted in a mosaic found from the Villa of the Figured Capitals in Pompeii.

With 2,500 objects, the museum has one of the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts in Italy after the Turin, Florence and Bologna ones. It is made up primarily of works from two private collections, assembled by Cardinal Stefano Borgia in the second half of the 18th century, and Picchianti in the first years of the 19th. In the recent rearrangement of the galleries the two nuclei have been exhibited separately, while in the connecting room other items are on display, including Egyptian and 'pseudo-Egyptian' artefacts from Pompeii and other Campanian sites. In its new layout the collection provides both an important record of Egyptian civilization from the Old Kingdom (2700-2200 B.C.) up to the Ptolemaic-Roman era.



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Piazza Museo 22, Naples, Italy
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Founded: 1777
Category: Museums in Italy


4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

D Richey (2 years ago)
Such a cool experience and highly necessary in combination with any visit to Pompeii. Really getting to see the artifacts of the daily Life of ancient Romans was.. amazing. FYI: Secret room closes at 1:45pm and you’re only allowed 5 minutes!
Oly Mpia (2 years ago)
Very beautiful building - I was actually more impressed about the building than the statues. But maybe because I'm Greek and most of the statues where Replicas of Greek. We also bought an audio guide but there is a very small number of statues and exhibits that have a number to enter to the audio guide. Very impressive section is the one with the huge huge statues and my personally favorite the mosaic section ?
Mucy (2 years ago)
This is where all the good stuff ended up when they robbed Pompeii. Here are the originals (and of course, the most famous ones are hidden away "for restoration" - so the main works you cannot see. But nevertheless, you get a good look at what's going on. Pompeians were much into art, going towards Realism and Impressionism 2000 years before its time. For a painful moment you are thankful for the eruption in '79, as it preserved some fantastic art for us ... and also showed how Christianity worked for 2000 years to destroy all art and than only in modern times we are getting back to where Pompeians were... When you see how accurate they were about some microscopic details, for instance on jewelry ... not even today you don't get pieces like this ...
Primož Roškar (2 years ago)
Crazy good 150 years old model of Pompeii. And crazy good gladiators stuff.
John Balletto (2 years ago)
Some sections closed. Very impressive museum. Great Pompeii artifacts.
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