Discover everything from objects looted from towns buried by the Mount Vesuvius eruption of A.D. 79 to Farnese and erotic artwork at the National Archaeological Museum (Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli). Established by King Charles III of Bourbon with artifacts inherited from his mother Queen Elisabeth Farnese, the National Archaeological Museum now presents one of the world’s finest insights into Greco-Roman culture.
The exhibitions spread throughout the halls of a former cavalry barracks, itself set around the delightful Garden of Fountains. Pass through the grandiose lobby to the Farnese collection and see the huge Farnese Bull sculpture and sculptures from Rome’s Baths of Caracalla. See mosaics from Pompeii and a numismatics display on the second floor. Don’t miss the Secret Cabinet, which stores art with erotic themes recovered from Herculaneum and Pompeii.
On the upper floor, the Hall of the Sundialhas a striking statue of Atlas and paintings such as Pietro Bardellino’s portrayal of Ferdinand IV of Naples’ brief conquest of Rome. A depiction of the sacrifice of goddess Iphigenia is one of many interesting frescoes. Study an array of sculptures and frescoes found at the Temple of Isis in Pompeii.
Admire bronze statues that once decorated the Villa of the Papyri, which is regarded as the most opulent house in Herculaneum and ancient Rome. The Ancient Naplesroom offers a glimpse into the city during the Greek and Roman periods. Go to the basement level to find examples of Egyptian papyrus and statues adorned with hieroglyphics. Here is also the museum’s collection of epigraphs.
Located at the edge of Naples’ Historic Center, the museum is easy to reach using public transportation. Several bus lines stop nearby and the Museum and Piazza Cavour subway stations are both a short walk away.
The National Archaeological Museum is open from Wednesday to Monday. Admission is free on the first Sunday of the month. Audio guides in multiple languages are available for a fee. Guided visits and tours for the visually impaired can be arranged by prior request and have a fee.