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.
Piazza Museo 19, Naples, 801235, Italy
Jun 13, 2005
This is one of the great museum experiences of Italy. A trip here completes any visit to Pompeii, since the greatest treasures from Pompeii were moved here. We arrived late in the afternoon and the museum employees were very friendly. We were practically the only ones in the museum. This a great shame because the collection of classical Roman statuary is outstanding. The "Secret Room" was unguarded, however. Any child could have entered and
seen this collection of erotic artwork from Pompeii. Please do not miss this museum. In fact, I cannot wait to return to Naples to explore the city. It does not seem any less safe than Rome or Florence.