Originally built as a barracks and then the seat of the University of Naples, the National Archaeological Museum of Naples on Piazza Museo is an important Italian cultural institution housing a massive array of Greco-Roman artifacts. Exhibitions include ancient mosaics, Roman bronzes, an impressive Egyptian collection, and Farnese marble sculptures. Many of the relics here came from Pompeii, Herculaneam and other nearby excavation sites.
The bright pink museum may look somewhat out of place in this section of Naples right off of Via Toledo, which is one of the grittier areas of the city. But you won't be disappointed once you step inside and see the millions of incredible objects on display.
The Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli (sometimes shortened to MANN) was built in 1585 as a cavalry barracks, making it one of the oldest museums in the world. It was occupied by the University of Naples from 1616 to 1777 before being officially established as a museum by King Charles II.
The Farnese Collection is one of the most popular sections of the museum, featuring famous works including the Farnese Hercules, the Farnese Atlas and the Farnese Bull, which is generally considered the largest sculpture ever recovered from antiquity.
You'll also want to visit the mosaics collection from Pompeii, which is displayed on the second floor of the Archaeological Museum.
If you do pay a visit to this museum, be sure to dedicate a couple of hours to it. In the basement you’ll find the NSFW Gabinetto Segreto (Secret Cabinet), a secret room that houses a collection of erotic art and imagery excavated in Pompeii. Dozens of sexually explicit paintings and phallus-shaped pendants discovered at the excavation site, some of which were probably made as talismans to honour Priapus, the god of fertility.
After the excavation in the 19th century, the objects were put on display for a time at the Naples Archaeological Museum. But when Francis I, the soon-to-be King of the Two Sicilies, visited with his wife and daughter in 1819, he deemed the collection too racy for the public eye. From that point on, erotic items were locked away in a 'secret cabinet,' which could only be accessed by mature gentlemen of moral standing (and men willing to bribe the staff).
It wasn't until 2000 that the Gabinetto Segreto finally opened up to the public once more, with both men and women allowed to enter.
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