Naples and Campania Sights

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Museo Archeologico Nazionale (National Museum of Archaeology)

Museo Archeologico Nazionale (National Museum of Archaeology) Review

Those who know and love this legendary museum—now restyled as MANN (Museo Archeologico Nazionale Napoli), though the name has yet to catch on—have the tendency upon hearing it mentioned to heave a sigh: it's famous not only for its unrivaled collections but also for its cordoned-off rooms, missing identification labels, poor lighting, billows of dust, suffocating heat in summer, and indifferent personnel, a state of affairs seen by some critics as an encapsulation of everything that's wrong with southern Italy in general.

Precisely because of this emblematic value, the National Ministry of Culture has decided to lavish attention and funds on the museum in a complete reorganization. This process has been ongoing for some time and looks as if it will continue for a while longer, although improvements are gradually becoming visible: ticketing has been privatized and opening hours extended—for the core "masterpiece" collection, that is; other rooms are subject to staffing shortages and sometimes close on a rotating basis. Some of the "newer" rooms, covering archaeological discoveries in the Greco-Roman settlements and necropolises in and around Naples, have helpful informational panels in English. A fascinating free display of the finds unearthed during digs for the Naples metro has been set up in the Museo station, close to the museum's entrance.

Though some rooms may be closed when you visit, world-renowned archaeological finds that put most other museums to shame are always on view. These include the legendary Farnese collection of ancient sculpture, some of the best mosaics and paintings from Pompeii and Herculaneum, and Iliou Persis (The Taking of Troy), one of several dozen objects returned to Italy by the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

Updated: 12-12-2013

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