Museo Archeologico
(Italian pronunciation: moo-zay-oh   ahr-kay-oh-loh-jee-koh)

Via della Colonna 38
 located in Via della Colonna
between Piazza d'Azeglio and Piazza Santissima Annunziata
Admission 4€
Tues and Thurs 8:30 am-7 pm, Wed and Fri-Sun 8:30 am-2 pm
Closed on Mondays

The Museum is situated in Palazzo della Crocetta (with its unusual design in the shape of the cross), which was built by Giulio Parigi for the Archduchess Maria Maddalena d'Austria (1620).  Entrance is from Via della Colonna near piazza SS.Anunziata, where there is also a railed-off garden containing several Etruscan tombs that have been recomposed using as much of the original material as possible. It is one of the most important museums in the world on the art and civilization of the Etruscans, though it also contains many fine examples of Greek art. The important Egyptian Museum is situated on the first floor, the second in Italy after the one in Turin; the collection was formed by the Nizzoli and Schiapparelli collections together with the series of excavations carried out between 1828-29 by Ippolito Rossellini with François Champollion, the scholar who decoded hieroglyphics.  One of the famous victims of the 1966 flood, the museum has since been carefully restored and is now able to exhibit all its treasures to the public.

Chariot - New kingdom - XVIII DynastyThe collection originated with the Medici Collections (from the time of Cosimo the Elder) and was then further enriched by the Lorraine family and exhibited in the Uffizi until 1888, when it was moved to Palazzo Crocetta. Some of the most famous works it contains are: the la Chimera, a bronze masterpiece of Etruscan sculpture (V-IV century B.C.), discovered in 1553 in the countryside near Arezzo and restored by Benvenuto Cellini;he huge silver Amphora of Baratti (IV century B.C.) decorated with about 130 images of Gods and heroes; the Arringatore, the large bronze portrait (I century B.C.) of the Etruscan nobleman Aule Metelle discovered in 1566 near the Lake of Trasimeno; the Little Idol, a rare Greek bronze (V century B.C.) found in Pesaro in 1530, which still has the Renaissance base added to it when it became part of the Medici collections; the Greek Torso of an Athlete (V century B.C.) is Greek, as also the Head of a Horse from the Hellenistic period which was to inspire Donatello and Verrocchio for the two famous equestrian monuments in Padua and Venice.

This embarrassingly rich collection is often overlooked by visitors in full-throttle Renaissance mode. It conserves Egyptian artifacts, Roman remains, many Attic vases, and an important Etruscan collection. Parts of it have been undergoing restoration and rearrangement for years and are closed indefinitely, including the garden. The relics to be on the lookout for start in the first ground-floor room with an early-4th-century B.C. bronze Chimera, a mythical beast with a lion's body and head, a goat head sprouting from its back, and a serpent for a tail (the tail was incorrectly restored in 1785). The beast was found near Arezzo in 1553 and probably made in a Chiusi or an Orvieto workshop as a votive offering. The legend that claims Benvenuto Cellini recast the left paws is hogwash; the feet did have to be reattached, but they had the originals to work with. Ground-floor room III contains a silver amphora studded with concave medallions, a work from Antioch (ca. A.D. 380).

The Goddess MaatIn room III on the upper floor is an extraordinarily rare Hittite wood-and-bone chariot from the 14th century B.C. Room XIV upstairs has a cast bronze Arringatore, or orator, found near Perugia. It was made in the 1st century B.C. and helps illustrate how Roman society was having a great influence on the Etruscan world -- not only in the workmanship of the statue but also in the fact that the Etruscan orator Aule Meteli is wearing a Roman toga. Room XIII contains the museum's most famous piece, the Idolino. The history of this nude bronze lad with his outstretched hand is long, complicated, and in the end a bit mysterious. The current theory is that he's a Roman statue of the Augustan period (around the time of Christ), with the head perhaps modeled on a lost piece by the Greek master Polycleitus. The rub: Idolino was originally probably part of a lamp stand used at Roman banquets. The male torso displayed here was fished out of the sea near Livorno. It was made in Greece around 480 to 470 B.C. -- the earliest known Greek bronze cast using the lost wax method. The horse's head also in this room once belonged to the Medici, as did much of this museum's collections, and tradition holds that it was a source of inspiration for Verrocchio and Donatello as they cast their own equestrian monuments. It was probably once part of a Hellenistic sculpture from the 2nd or 1st century B.C.