Museum's history

With its rich and unique archaeological collections, this Museum is one of the most ancient and important institutes in the world.
Its creation is closely tied to the figure of Charles III of the Bourbon dynasty, who ascended to the throne of Naples in 1734. He promoted the excavations of the Roman towns buried by the eruption of 79 AD, as well as the project of setting up a Museo Farnesiano, moving to Naples part of the rich collection he had inherited through his mother Elisabeth Farnese.
His son, Ferdinand IV, chose the current building to house both the Farnese collection and the relics from the Vesuvian towns, which are still today the Museum’s core collections. The palace, originally erected to host the royal cavalry barracks at the end of the 16th century, became the seat of the University of Naples from 1616 to 1777. When the University was moved elsewhere, the architects Fuga and Schiantarelli enlarged and refurbished the building.
SAlthough the first galleries of the Museum were set up during the French Decade (1806-1815), with the Restoration of the Bourbons on the throne of Naples, in 1816, it became the Real Museo Borbonico. Initially conceived as an encyclopedic museum, it included different Institutes and laboratories (Royal Library, Drawing Academy, Officina dei Papiri and an astronomical Observatory, never completed), which, at different times, were all moved to other locations.
Thanks to the unification of Italy in 1860, it was renamed National Museum. Its collections were gradually expanded through the double acquisition of finds from excavations in Campania and Southern Italy, as well as from private collections. The transfer of all the paintings to the Museum of Capodimonte in 1957, determined its sole identity of Archaeological Museum.