Archaelogical Museum, Naples
This is one of the world's greatest museums, so if you visit Rome, but feel afraid about visiting dirty and dangerous Naples, forget all that and visit Naples anyway. This museum rivals the best of Rome itself, having the best and largest collection of mosaics and frescoes from Pompeii. This is reason enough to visit.
Yes, you must go.. even if this is the only thing you visit in Naples. The museum is housed in a rather magnificent 1586, originally the headquarters for the University of Naples and later used as a cavalry barracks before being turned into a museum during the late 1700s.
The best sculptures, paintings and mosaics from Pompeii, Herculaneum and the other ancient sites are gathered here (and other things too). That does not, of course, mean you will see them all; there are simply far, far too many of them.
And you may well find, as I did, that some galleries are closed for restoration or renovation or re-exhibition or...well, just because they are closed (lack of staff, perhaps?).
But even so you will see the most magnificent things: vast sculptures, intricately-detailed sculptures, amazingly-skilful sculptures.......incredible mosaics made fromn the tiniest of tiny stone pieces or (a style I'd not come across before) larger slices of black and white stone...cases of glass vessels (some of which could have been produced yesterday), of ironwork, of pottery...and a whole hall of magnificent centrepieces from the superb frescoes found in the richest buildings destroyed in the Vesuvian eruption of AD79.
There's a 'secret cabinet' as well. It contains the rudest of the frescoes and artefacts from Pompeii, considered in the past to be inappropriate for general public viewing and, even now, considered inappropriate for general public viewing. You can gain access (if you are over 14) by asking at the information desk but I did not know that before I arrive at the iron gates to the room, and I simply couldn't be bothered to go all the way down, ask, and come all the way back up again.
This place is absolutely unmissable if you have any interest whatsoever in ancient sites and ancient lives. Even if you have visited Pompeii, Herculaneum Oplontis and so on you still need to go because those sites have been stripped of the artefacts which really demonstrate both their wealth and the wealth of Roman culture in AD79.
See my mosaic photos here and my sculpture photos here and here
Open 0900 -1930 every day except Tuesday. Closed 25th December, 1st January, 1st May.
Entrance in October 2011 was 6.50 euro. Note that credit/debit cards are *not* accepted. There are audioguides available for hire at 5 euro.
The Farnese Bull is the tallest and largest work in the museum. The Doryphorus is also a fine statue. Another full length statue is the Dancing Faun which stood in Pompeii at the house of the same name. The last two statues are from Roman times, first a Roman matron and finally a River God.
Almost all of the great sculptures at the National Museum are Roman copies of Greek works that no longer exist. Starting at the entrance hall one sees an oversized Athena. In a nearby long hall is a crouching Venus and Eros next to her. From Nero's Domus Aureu comes the Venus Callypige. a great nude. as well as a famous Hercules resting.
The National Archeological Museum well deserves a long visit. It contains a large collection of ancient sculpture, many of the pieces are copies of greek original statues from classic and Hellenistic periods: Aphrodite, Apollo, Hercules, Roman emperors, busts of philosophers (Socrates), historians (Herodotus and Thucydides on a same block), Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides... For me the most impressive masterpiece was the Farnese bull, a huge marble sculptural group that represents the myth of Dirce, first wife of Lykos, king of Thebes, being tied to a bull by the sons of Antiope.
There is also a great collection of mosaics and other artifacts from Pompeii and Herculaneum villas. Some of the mosaics are composed by tesserae as small as 2 mm. The mosaic of Alexander the Great which depicts the battle with Darius III of Persia is the largest of the collection, but also the mosaics devoted to the theater or depicting wild animals are worth a detailed watch, as well as the famous Cave canem from Pompeii.
Beside the mosaics is the section dedicated to erotic art, composed by figurines and paintings, some of them found at the lupanar of Pompeii.
Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to enter in the room where the frescoes from Pompeii are.
There is also a collection of Egyptian art but this section was under restoration works when we visited the museum and we only saw some pieces in a small room.
The treasure are here and this is the big item on a visit to Naples if you are there for more than pizza. And believe me, I found those entire murals, statues, mosaics to be incredible and helped me to better understand the people who lived in Pompeii and Herculaneum. On my visit to those ruins I kept asking myself, "where are the items found in those houses and ruins?" At Pompeii you can see a small, almost garage sized building of pots, jugs and three plaster castings of dead people found there. You walk by it and can see it all in five minutes. But when you go to the museum in Naples, your eyes are going to be opened to the beauty of the floors, the walls and more that were carted from the ruins. It is there, to be amazed at, and if you miss this, you miss the major attraction, to my estimation of this area.
Also included are Roman statues brought from Rome, which are incredible.
Be prepared to spend at least 3 hours.
Elevator in use.
Sometimes we feel we have seen so many archeological museums at southern Europe, that we will skip them, because most of them have quite same kind of things. But somehow we felt we must see this, because we came to the area because of the Pompeij and Herculaneum.
It was worth visiting, and not too big. Actaully we thought it would have been bigger. So we had more time to wonder around Napoli itself then ;)
But maybe we waited to see even more things about Pompeij. There was some rooms with wallpaintings and mosaics and some rooms with erotic figures of Pompeij (those rooms were todl not to go without booking, as the sign said at the door of the rooms, but everyone just walked in, so I don´t know what that sign was for? Maybe it is more for the summer-season. We went at march.
There was no any kind of queue for the museum or anywhere inside at march.
Stop by the National Archaelogy Museum. There is tons of stuff inside. The signs and captions for the stuff are all in Italian, but you can have a guided tour or get one of those little contraptions that you punch in the number of the exhibit and it will tell you about each article in great detail in the language of your choice. I went just to see the Egyptian stuff. There are adult mummies and even kid mummies... even a baby crocodile mummy... Oh yeah, and there was a mummified human head inside a jar complete with hair and teeth intact... There was a security guard here that took it upon himself to offer his phone number to my friend and me. He offered us free entrance the next time we are in town. Is this the part where I'm supposed to say, "What a nice guy?"
If you're in Naples, this museum is an absolute MUST SEE! The best treasures from Pompeii and Herculaneum were brought here. There is a wonderful collection of mosaics, the most important of which is undoubtedly "Alexander the Great defeating Darius," taken from the "House of the Faun" in Pompeii. It is 10 feet high and nearly 20 feet long, with a million and a half tesserae! There's the astonishing and huge "Farnese Bull" sculpture group (the largest ancient sculpture ever found), as well as many other famous works, including paintings, bronzes, and jewelry. Be sure to sign up for the escorted tour of the delightful "Gabinetto Segreto" (Secret Room) with it's collection of ancient erotic art, including frescoes which adorned the walls of one of Pompeii's brothels (there's no extra charge for this). Even if the tour is only given in Italian, it's worth seeing. Usually open from 9 am to 8 pm, closed Tuesday. An audio guide in English is available.
The National Archelogical Museum. Havent been there myself due to my kind of trip (there wasnt any time to go) but when i come back its on the top of my things to do list.
It houses the second largest archelogical collection of Italy (first one is the Vatican museum) so you can understand that alot of very well known pieces are in this museum e.g the Farnese collection.
It's been many years but I never forgot my visit to the National Archeological Museum in Naples (Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli.) The most complete collections from the Classic Period. The collection from Pompei and Herculaneum began in Villa of Portici when excavations started in 1738 (moved to present building since.) Just to name a few highlights:
A most beautiful statue of Antinoo (favourite of Emperor Hadrian), classic Greek statuary interpreted in the baroque style of Hadrian's era.
The Wrestlers (Atleta) is bronze in motion! Unforgettable! (IV c. BC)
The Farnese Bull, probably the largest statue from ancient times.
The Farnese Hercules, gigantic and impressive.
Mural paintings, mosaics and ceramics from Pompei et al, famous depictions that you'll surely recognise. Very beautiful.
You would have time for a good pizza too. :)
One of world's largest and oldest museums, il Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli contains an important collection of artefacts and artwork, mostly from around Naples. It is housed in a historic landmark building, built in the early 17th century originally as the University of Naples. When the university vacated in the 18th century, King Carlo di Borbone converted the edifice into a museum to showcase the Farnese Collection which he had donated. The collection included some of the finest classical sculptures in existence, some of which were brought over from the Baths of Caracalla in Rome. Archaeological discoveries made around Naples in the ensuing decades further enriched the museum, particularly Pompei, Stabiae and Herculaneum. In fact, the museum is most famous for the frescoes and mosaics brought in from nearby Pompeii - the reason I was drawn to Naples in the first place. Lesser known, but equally fascinating, is the "Secret Cabinet", a separate hall containing erotic sculptures and artefacts discovered in Pompeii that would make any of us blush. It took me over 4 years (in May 09) to finally make it to this museum after visiting Pompeii in 2005, but I highly recommend rushing here afterwards to complete the appreciation of the history of Pompeii.
For photos of the incredible collection, check out the travelogues: "Pompei's Frescoes", "Graeco-Roman Statues" and "Alexander Mosaic & More."
[UPDATE: On a second visit to the museum in Apr 2010, I was disappointed to find out that the mosaics wing and the Secret Cabinet had been closed since Feb 2010 for an extended period due to preservation work.]
Okay so Naples is a poor city, and always has been. However it has Pompeii and all the stuff they found in Pompeii. Nowhere else in the world has anything like Pompeii. So you'd think they'd make the most of it. Unfortunately the musem, like Pompeii itself, is massively underfunded. So don't be surprised if half the galleries are closed or only open at certain times. I did get to see the mosaics from Pompeii (absolutely stunning) and the Secret Cabinet (all the rude stuff from Pompeii). I also got to see all the paintings from Pompeii, eventually....and they too are amazing.
However, having travelled half way round the world, I didn't get to see the Farnesi marbles. Purely and simply because they haven't got the staff to open the gallery. Unbelieveable.
Incidentally, walk from the central station...then you get to see some of old Naples.
We personally did not pay to see go in to the museum because of time, but I read that this museum offers a wonderful collection of Pompeii and Herculaneum art. We enjoyed admiring the museum from the outside and it's architecture.
Even if you only have a short time in Naples try not to miss this museum.
The mosaics and other treasures from Pompeii and Herculaneum make a wonderful introduction to the sites. They are preserved here in all there glory. Some of the mosaics consist of pieces barely more that 1mm and are breathtaking.
Don't miss the extensive model of Pompeii started in 1861. It is so detailed that it is an important historical record in itself.
Also of note are the Farnese sculptures, though sadly the famous Hercules was under wraps for my visit due to restoration of the room. I also admired the deeply carved sarcophagi on the ground floor.
A real treat.