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
See all sites in Naples


Founded: 1777
Category: Museums in Italy


4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Hugo Pettersson (15 months ago)
Can not give less than five stars for all the treasures kept here. Information could be better and a pity some rooms were roped off. Great Canova exhibition when we were there.
Noelle Gregory Thompson (15 months ago)
If you like ancient sculpture, you'll enjoy this museum. The collection of sculptures is impressive and there are many beautiful frescoes. The museum itself is a bit run down and there are lots of empty displays. They appear to be renovating and the courtyard is full of consruction debris. However, there isn't much else to do in Naples, so I would recommend checking it out.
JKB Buehringen (15 months ago)
Absolutely spectacular museum. Definitely one of the very best in the world. I however take one star off for not having any options to eat and drink except a string of vending machines (sorry, not adequate in this case).
xiaoli Huang (15 months ago)
Excellent collection! Way more exhibited than one can digest in a visit. Takes a good half day, bring a few snack you will need it. The Pompeii collection is way up stairs in the corner, which is the reason for my visit. The gun powder collaborated show is a really neat and conceptually nichy, toasting Hercules etc for a burnt color plus smell effect. Bring extra sensory experience into the show!
Joy Shute (16 months ago)
The museum has some nice exhibits on Pompeii and Herculaneum, but they comprise maybe half the museum space (of which areas are closed, more on that later) so it is not as much as you would hope for after visiting both sited as we did. The museum has artifacts from the House of the Faun in Pompeii that were fascinating, but is that worth 15€? Maybe not. Also, while the outside is beautiful the inside of the museum is in need of maintenance. There are literal cobwebs on statues! There is one bathroom in the entire museum so if you are female be prepared to wait at least 15 min. Also 2 large areas of the museum dedicated to Pompeii were roped off to guests. When I say roped off I mean you can look down the corridor and see there are many artifacts they just inexplicably have them closed off for who knows what reason. We were also hoping to see the original casts of the victims of Pompeii, but either they are in a closed off section or are no longer displayed. Overall it's a decent museum, but it definitely didn't live up to the hype. If you have visited Pompeii I promise you aren't missing anything to just skip this.
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