If you are living in Naples, Italy and you would like to enjoy a day downtown, can I suggest a tour of the Naples Archaeological Museum?

The history of the museum goes back to the beginning of the 18th century, to the man himself, Charles III of Bourbon, and his many works of art and antiques. There were a couple of successful excavations that were conducted in the late 1700s, particularly at Resina and in Pompeii and Stabiae.

In the Villa of the Pisones at Herculaneum (excavated 1754-58) there were many discoveries to include: items from daily life, weapons, mosaics, superb paintings, etc. It was Charles III of Bourbons successor Ferdinand IV of Bourbon that brought all of these items together under one family that created the museum.

Pompeo Schiantarelli was ultimately tasked with building the structure that would house all of the artifacts.

The museum was inaugurated in 1816 as the ‘Royal Bourbon Museum’ and became a product of its directors.

Lovely pink building in downtown Naples. It’s hard to miss if you are going by GPS. One recommendation I would give, is to hire an English speaking guide to tour the museum with. I didn’t get much out of it by just walking around because there was no audio tour available. It costs something like $70 to go with the guide and you get link up with one at the museum itself. My friend Amanda did it and said it was very enjoyable.

Archaeological Museum, Naples Italy 3I just have a few photos as I walked through the museum, so I’ll explain to you some of the sculptures if they are located in the guide book. The man with his hand raised^ is Ferdinand IV as Minerva.

Archeological Museum, Naples ItalyLong rooms full of statues, and you’d think only stuff like this is found in well-known museums. Nope, some of the best art is found in “off the beaten path” style travel.

Archeological Museum, Naples Italy 2Ahhh, this famous Farnese Bull sculpture was uncovered in the Baths of Caracalla in 1545. This sculpture is about the myth of the punishment of Dirce. Dirce was the wife of Lykos, King of Thebes. The punishment was served at the hands of Amphion and Zethus. It was Amphion’s revenge to get back at Dirce for her bad treatment of their mother Antiope because Dirce was jealous of her beauty.

Together, Amphion and Zethus tied Dirce to the horns of a bull and let her be dragged away, tearing her body on the rocks.

Archeological Museum, Naples Italy 18The backside of the bull in different lighting.

Archeological Museum, Naples Italy 16The sculptures go on and on and on..

Archaeological Museum, Naples Italy 1She’s wearing a purple dress! Normally, even if a sculpture is wearing clothes they are still white. I thought this was interesting. Colored clothing on a sculpture.

Archeological Museum, Naples Italy 17 Archeological Museum, Naples Italy 5
Archeological Museum, Naples Italy 19 Archeological Museum, Naples Italy 20 Archeological Museum, Naples Italy 21Farneses’s Hercules. This statue was featured in the Palazzo Farnese in Rome until 1787. The statue itself has been restored on numerous occasions, even having his legs replaced because they were not found in the original excavation, although they were found later and discarded.

Archeological Museum, Naples Italy 22The status is a copy of the colossal bronze of ‘Hercules at Rest’ by Lysippus of Sicyon.

Archeological Museum, Naples Italy 23 Archeological Museum, Naples Italy 6A few sexual images. This is Pan and goat, found in the 1752 excavation of the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum. It depicts Pan, God of the woodlands coupling with a she-goat. This may have been one of the most heavily censored objects in the collection. Only the king was allowed to see it before it was shut away in a cupboard, hidden even from the eyes of Winckelmann. Valadier, who described it as a work “most lascivious, but beautifual” is one shared by many.

Archeological Museum, Naples Italy 7Ummm what is going on here? #dickart

Archaeological Museum, Naples Italy 4



Tintinnabulum in the shape of an ithyphallic gladiator (right side). These were normally hung from the doors of private houses and shops. Their function was to signal the entrance of visitors and ward off the evil eye.

Archeological Museum, Naples Italy 3There were some rooms being redone in the museum and you could walk outside to take a peek at the Pompeii collection of sculptures awaiting their new home.
Archeological Museum, Naples Italy 4 Archeological Museum, Naples Italy 8 Archeological Museum, Naples Italy 9A view of Naples from one of the museums balconies. As I said, it is right in downtown.

Archeological Museum, Naples Italy 12 Archeological Museum, Naples Italy 10One room is full of paintings of Mount Vesuvius. I really liked this room. I walked from painting to painting, trying to determine which one was my favorite. It was a hard choice!

Archeological Museum, Naples Italy 11Archaeological Museum, Naples Italy 6After only about an hour of walking around, we came to the end of our tour. I’d say it is time for lunch wouldn’t you?

***The factual information contained in this blog post came from the National Archaeological Museum of Naples English guide, purchased in the gift shop of the museum.

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