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.
Ahhh, 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.
Farneses’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.
A 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.
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.
There 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.
A view of Naples from one of the museums balconies. As I said, it is right in downtown.
***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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