National Archaeological Museum of Florence

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The Archaeological Museum of Florence, a journey into the distant past

The one in Florence is one of the main archaeological museums in Italy. Inside there are many of the most important archaeological finds found in Tuscany. This is one of the most interesting museums in the city as it boasts a very large collection consisting of Etruscan, Roman, Greek and Egyptian finds.

History of the museum

Inaugurated in 1870, the museum was initially located in Via Faenza and had only Etruscan and Roman finds. In 1880 it was reunited with the Egyptian Museum and moved to its current location in Piazza Santissima Annunziata. At the beginning the museum was fed with the Medici and Lorraine collections from the Uffizi Gallery. To these were added various acquisitions of Etruscan finds made both by the Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo and on the occasion of nineteenth-century expeditions. At the beginning of the 1900s, some Etruscan monumental tombs found in various excavations carried out in various areas of Tuscany were reconstructed in the garden of the museum.

Archaeological Museum of Florence
Archaeological Museum of Florence (Photo by Sailko / CC BY)

Guide to visiting the Archaeological Museum of Florence

The National Archaeological Museum of Florence is made up of five main sections: Etruscan, Roman, Greek, Egyptian and numismatic. Added to this are the tombs in the garden and other finds from other eras and cultures as well as some Renaissance works inspired by antiquity.

The Etruscan section

The first section of the archaeological museum of Florence is the Etruscan one. Located on the first floor of the building, this section was severely damaged by the flood of 1966. After this event, a long restoration was necessary, completed in 2000, which led to its complete reopening.

The Etruscan collection, which includes various relics dated differently, is best known for the Chimera d’Arezzo, a bronze model depicting the mythical mythological creature. The sculpture was restored in the 1700s by Francesco Carradori, who gave it a different shape from the original one, with the snake’s tail biting the goat’s head on the back, while, on the contrary, both should have been facing the observer. The work, found in 1533 and brought to Cosimo de’ Medici by Vasari, also has an inscription on the right front leg.

The other famous work kept in this wing of the museum is the Arringer, found in 1566 near the Trasimeno, and dated 1st century BC. Looking at the other departments of the Etruscan section, it will be noted that most of the sculptures and testimonies instead concern funerary art, which was very much felt at the time; we speak in particular of the sarcophagus of Lerthia Seianti, made of terracotta, which represents a patrician woman lying on the triclinium, depicted when she moves the veil over her head.

Another very important work is the Sarcophagus of the Amazons (4th century BC), made of Greek marble and painted by a painter from Taranto to which Etruscan inscriptions with the name of the deceased were subsequently added.

Until a few years ago, the Amphora of Baratti, dated 4th century, was also kept in Florence, depicting the images of over one hundred myths and heroes; recently the vase was returned to the city of Piombino. If you want to see it you must visit the Archaeological Museum of the Territory of Populonia.

The Roman section

Moving on to the Roman section, the Pesaro Idolin is certainly very impressive, a bronze statue of about 150 cm representing a young man. This statue, copied from a Greek original, was used by many sixteenth-century artists as a source of inspiration.

Do not forget also the torso of Livorno and the Treboniano Gallo.

The Greek section

In the Greek section we find instead housed a vast collection of ceramics. Many pieces, which date back to the 6th and 4th centuries BC, have been found in Etruscan sites and tombs. This testifies to how frequent exchanges between the Etruscan cities were with Athens, Rhodes and with all the most flourishing centers of Ancient Greece.

The great protagonist of this section is the fabulous François Vase, one of the world’s most famous examples of Greek art, which presents a series of mythological tales from Ancient Greece, arranged in six rows, perfectly studied and defined. Do not forget the sculptures: among the many, the two kouroi of the Apollo and the Apollino Milani, the athlete’s torso and the horse’s head stand out.

Egyptian Museum of Florence

The section called “Egyptian Museum” instead includes the second largest collection of Egyptian finds in Italy, after that of Turin. Here you can admire various works from private collections and findings from the 1930s.

Among the various testimonies of the splendor of Ancient Egypt, we find vases, fabrics, furniture, headdresses, sacred ornaments of various kinds. In one of the rooms of the section two sarcophagi are also exhibited, in addition to the casing of a woman’s body, in stuccoed canvas and covered in gold leaf.

The numismatic section

The archaeological museum also has a numismatic section, with one of the most important themed collections in Italy. The collection has over 80,000 pieces and includes the largest collection in the world of Etruscan coins (more than 1000).

Information on timetables and tickets for the Archaeological Museum of Florence

The archaeological museum of Florence is located in Piazza Santissima Annunziata 9b. It is open every day except the second, third, fourth and fifth Sunday of the month, January 1st and December 25th.

The museum has these hours: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, first Sunday of the month and holidays from 8.30 to 14.00; Thursday and Friday from 13.30 to 19.00. On some special occasions there may be extraordinary openings even in the evening.

Tickets cost 8 euros for the whole ticket and 2 euros for the reduced one.

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