The National Archaeological Museum Naples (Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli) is one of Italy’s most important and abundant museums, in terms of historical importance, collection of ancient artifacts, and contribution to the European cultural survey. Before constituting the museum, this building was initially set up as cavalry barracks, and from 1616 to 1777, it was the seat of the University of Naples.
It wasn’t until the late 18th century that this structure came to be a museum. Charles III of Bourbon established the museum, then known as the Real Museo Borbonico, in order to house the antiquities bequeathed to him by his mother, Elisabetta Farnese, and showcase the treasures found in Herculaneum and Pompeii, the two cities destroyed by Mount Vesuvius.
Quick Jumplinks to Navigate the Guide
- Why Visit
- National Archaeological Museum Naples Tickets
- Planning Your Time at the Museum
- Famous Exhibits at the National Archaeological Museum Naples
- Practical Information
- National Archaeological Museum Naples: Reviews
- Tips on Visiting the Naples Archaeological Museum
The extensive collection on display at the National Archaeological Museum of Naples is truly mesmerizing and serves as a true testament to man’s journey through time. The museum houses one of the world’s largest collections of Greco-Roman antiquities. It is world-famous for its Farnese Collection, which includes some of the world’s most influential works of art. The museum also contains an exquisite collection of mosaics, most of which were recovered from the ruins of Pompeii. Of these, the one that stands out is the Alexander Mosaic, which beautifully depicts the Battle of Alexander against Darius.
Another reason for this museum’s popularity is the fact it is home to Italy’s second largest collection of ancient Egyptian artefacts! And if you still aren’t convinced, then read on, for there is one more secret (literally) for you to uncover here. The museum has a ‘secret’ room, known as Gabinetto Segreto, which has a fairly large collection of erotic and sexual relics. This room initially had restricted access to those of ‘mature age and known morals’, but was opened to the public in 2000.
National Archaeological Museum Naples Tickets
National Archaeological Museum Priority Entrance with Audioguide
- Skip the line and make your way into the museum.
- Complete flexibility in terms of visiting as tickets are valid for 200 days from the day of booking.
- Explore the museum with an audio guide available in 5 different languages.
Planning Your Time at the Museum
The National Archaeological Museum Naples is home to some of mankind’s finest works, including exquisite sculptures, frescoes, jewels, and ancient relics. The museum is divided into 2 main floors along with a mezzanine section and a basement, each with a unique collection. With all sections and levels open to visitors, here is a guide on how you can navigate each floor and make the most out of your visit.
Find the museum map here.
In the basement you will find Italy’s second largest collection of ancient Egyptian relics with over 2,500 pieces on display! The articles here are mainly made up from two private collections - one assembled by Cardinal Stefano Borgia (late 18th century) and the other by Picchianti (early 19th century). The artefacts you will find here mainly center around the themes of mummification, magic, and tombs. The basement also houses an impressive collection of epigraphs from Pompeii.
The entrance to the museum is from the ground floor, where you will find the most important collection in the museum — the Farnese Collection. The Farnese Collection consists of a number of important Greco-Roman antiquities including sculptures, engraved gems, and marbles. The most notable works here include the Farnese Cup, Farnese Atlas, Farnese Hercules (Ercole Farnese), and Farnese Bull (Toro Farnese). On this floor you will also find the information desk, ticketing office, and a bookshop, along with the Gardens of Fountains and Camellias.
On the first floor, you will find the ‘Secret Room’ or the Gabinetto Segreto, which houses a huge, and sometimes controversial, collection of ancient erotica. Here you will find a series of nine paintings depicting sexually explicit content as well as the famous ‘Pan Copulating with Goat’ statue taken from Herculaneum. Adjacent to the Gabinetto Segreto is a display of breathtaking mosaics from Pompeii. On the right side of this floor, you will also see six rooms dedicated to numismatics, consisting of more than 200,000 coins and medals from Ancient Greece and Rome.
This floor of the museum has a number of collections, the Hall of the Sundial (Salone della Meridiana), a model town of Pompeii before the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, as well as certain rooms dedicated to quaint frescoes and the Temple of Isis in Pompeii. This floor mainly focuses on the findings and relics recovered from Pompeii and Herculaneum.
Famous Exhibits at the National Archaeological Museum Naples
One of the most famous collections in this museum is the Farnese Collection. The items in this collection were acquired by Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, who eventually became Pope Paul III. The two standout pieces from this collection include the Toro Farnese, a magnificent sculpture carved from a single block of marble, depicting the death of Dirce, Queen of Thebes, and Ercole Farnese, an imposing marble statue of Hercules leaning over his club.
The museum holds a ton of artefacts and relics from the ancient city of Pompeii. Some of the most noteworthy articles include the collection of ancient epigraphs, erotic paintings and statues, and beautiful frescoes. Apart from this, there is even a miniature model of the city and space dedicated to the Temple of Isis. One can find out a lot about the city of Pompeii by visiting this museum and examining its vast collections.
This museum has a wonderful range of mosaics, which were predominantly recovered from Pompeii and other Vesuvian Cities. The most famous works of art include the Alexander Mosaic, which shows the famous Alexander the Great taking on Darius III of Persia in 100 BC, and another piece showcasing a gladiator fight.
Roman Bronzes from the Villa of the Papyri
Yet another outstanding collection on display here includes a range of ancient Roman bronze statues and effigies from the Villa of the Papyri. Some of the statues include the Seated Hermes, Drunken Satyr, a bust of Thespis and a pair of beautifully crafted runners.
With over 2,500 pieces on display, the National Archaeological Museum of Naples is home to one of the world’s largest collection of ancient Egyptian relics outside of Egypt. The most famous artefacts here include the Naoforo Farnese, a basalt sculpture which depicts a man kneeling on a base with bent arms; Charta Borgiana, an ancient papyrus; and perhaps the most famous, The Lady of Naples, a grey diorite statue which happens to be the most ancient of all in this collection.
The ‘Great Hall of the Sundial’ is home to numerous Farnese paintings, and the famous marble statue Atlante farnese, which depicts Atlas carrying a globe on his shoulders. Once the royal library, the room dates back to 1612-15, and is also best known for a Pietro Bardellino fresco dated 1781, which celebrates Ferdinand IV and his wife Maria Carolina of Austria as patrons of arts.
Naples Archaeological Museum Opening Hours
- 9 AM to 7:30 PM daily, except Tuesdays.
- In case Tuesday coincides with a holiday, the museum is closed on Wednesday.
- 9 AM to 11 PM on Thursdays during summer.
- Closed on December 25 and January 1.
Piazza Museo, 19, 80135 Napoli NA, Italy
You can take Line 2 to Piazza Cavour Station. From here it is approximately a 10-minute walk.
Alternatively, you can take Line 1 to Museum Station. From here it is roughly a 5-minute walk.
Free Entrance for National Archaeological Museum Naples
If you meet any of the following conditions, then you will receive free entry to the museum:
• Everyone under 18 years old
• For disabled citizens of the EU, accompanied by a member of family or an operator working at the National Health Insurance Service
• Everyone visiting on the first Sunday of the month
Other conditions for free entrance can be found here.
National Archaeological Museum Naples: Reviews
This is an excellent museum. There are so many artefacts from Pompeii here and we went here before visiting Pompeii and glad we did it that way round. The mosaics are really worth seeing. When we visited there was also a Star Wars exhibition. Note there is no cafe at this museum but there are vending machines.
Gill L, TripAdvisor, July 2018
A great museum, with lot of interesting information art and history. Tip: Go to the museum before visiting Pompeii.
Joachim A, TripAdvisor, July 2018
See what others have to say about the National Archaeological Museum Naples on TripAdvisor.
Tips for your Visit to the Naples Archaeological Museum
- Make sure you purchase your tickets online! It will save you a ton of time and you may even get a discount on the price.
- Give yourself ample time to spend at the museum. There is a lot to see here, so make sure you have a good couple hours to spare (you won’t be disappointed).
- The best time to visit the museum is after 4 PM or early in the morning. You definitely want to avoid going on Sundays, as it is most crowded on this day.
- Make sure you carry your camera as you will have a ton of photo opportunities! Just remember that flash photography is prohibited.