Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli
The Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli is one of the most important museums in the world for classical archaeology. Setting aside the extraordinary richness of its collections, its history alone makes it a fundamental monument in the formation of classical culture in Europe. The roots of the Museum go back to the particular cultural event in the eighteenth century that led to the first formation of modern archaeology: this event was one in which Naples found itself playing a leading role, far beyond the position that the Kingdom of which it was capital occupied among the European states.
In 1777 King Ferdinand IV decided to use seventeenth-century Palazzo degli Studi to house the Museo Borbonico and the Real Biblioteca. This action signalled the start of the Bourbon project to create in Naples, the capital of the Kingdom,?a magnificent institute for the arts, bringing together in a single building the library, the valuable collection of antiquities that belonged to Elisabetta Farnese, mother of Charles III, which was divided between Rome and Capodimonte, and the archaeological collections made during the excavations carried out in the Vesuvian towns
from 1738 and previously exhibited in the Museo Ercolanese di Portici.?Enriched with other important collections, such?as the Borgia collection and part of the personal collection formed in Naples by Carolina Murat, the Museum opened in 1816 under the name of the Real Museo Borbonico.
During the nineteenth century it was further enriched, both with private collections, and with materials from the excavations carried out in Campania and in southern Italy, and particularly?in the Pompeian and Vesuvian district: between 1830 and 1840, some of the prestigious pieces to reach the Museum were the mosaic of Alexander and the other mosaics from the House of the Faun at Pompeii, the ‘Blue glass vase’, and the ‘Vase of Darius’. In 1860, with the Unification of Italy, the Real Museo Borbono fell into state ownership, and took the new name of ‘Museo Nazionale’.
On the ground floor, the Farnese Collection of antiquities, which has recently been reorganised and reopened to the public, was amassed in?the sixteenth century by means of donations, acquisitions and excavations, such as those carried out at the Baths of Caracalla, promoted by the Farnese family in Rome; the basement holds the Epigraphic Collection and the Egyptian Collection, which is second in importance only to the one
in the Museo Egizio in Turin; the mezzanine level hosts the Coins and Medals Collection, the Mosaics – which were removed at the time of the Bourbon excavations of houses in the Vesuvian cities – and the Secret Cabinet, which contains materials on an erotic theme collected since the eighteenth century and for many years kept from public view.?The first floor features the Salone della Meridiana, one of the most important and largest halls in Europe; Frescoes, which were detached between the middle of the eighteenth century and the early twentieth century from houses and buildings in Pompeii and Herculaneum; the rooms of the Villa of the Papyruses at Herculaneum, with the sculptures that decorated one of the most luxurious villas ever found in the Roman world, famous for its library?of papyruses with Greek and Latin texts; Ancient Naples, with a selection of finds from Greek and Roman Naples; and the rooms of the Temple of Isis at Pompeii.
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