Work Begins on Naples’ New Archaeological Museum

Plans are in place for Naples’ brand new archaeological museum, which will include special displays dedicated to the ancient city of Pompeii.

Jun 10, 2024By Rosie Lesso, MA Contemporary Art Theory, BA Fine Art


The hard work is now underway for a bright new mega museum in the Italian city of Naples, which the Italian government promises to be “the biggest cultural infrastructure in Europe.” Designed by architect Paolo Desideri, the ambitious new museum space will be housed in the former Albergo dei Poveri (also known as Palazzo Fuga), a cavernous site with more than 100,000 sq. m of floor space that has been derelict for decades. The site will become a sister museum to the Museo Nazionale Archaeologico Napoli (MANN), and be known as MANN 2.


The New Site

The exterior façade of the Albergo dei Poveri, which will be renovated into a new sister site for the Naples Archaeological Museum. Source: Art Tribune.


Part of a widespread regeneration project for Naples to improve the city’s tourism, the new archaeological museum site will provide ample space for MANN to display its vast collection of artefacts, much of which has been sitting in storage for decades due to insufficient exhibition rooms in its current location. The project means these long-forgotten relics, which have often only come out of storage for temporary displays when on loan to other museum sites around the world, will now be visible to the wider public on a more permanent basis. It is also hoped the venture will give purpose to the abandoned site of Albergo dei Poveri, which is loaded with history, and attract visitors to the surrounding area in Naples.


A Dedication to Pompeii

ruins from the site of Pompeii. Source: Dark Rome


A star attraction for the new museum will be a series of exhibition rooms devoted to Pompeii – the museum currently holds more than 40,000 objects related to the excavation and rediscovery of the ancient city that was buried in mountains of ash following the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. This will give the site a distinct identity that separates it from MANN. Massimo Osanna, Italian director general of the Museums of the Ministry of Culture says, “In Palazzo Fuga we do not want to replicate a collection already well told in the MANN itself: rather, we are going to create a space dedicated to the history of the rediscovery of the Vesuvian sites through artefacts, but also reconstructions, panels, and multimedia supports.”


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Approximately 10,000 sq. m of the site will be devoted to the remains of Pompeii and Vesuvius, and their discovery during the 18th century, with a series of rooms titled Discovery, Vesuvian Excavations (Pre-Unit, Post-Unit, and 1964 to present), Daily Life and Tragedy, and Paper Pompeii. Among the fascinating objects to go on display will be ordinary household matter, the bundles of gold and silver that inhabitants of Pompeii tried to grab in desperation before the city was submerged in ash, along with real eruptive materials and minerals from the area.


Regeneration and Improvement

Inside the current Naples Archaeological Museum. Source: Head Out


Plans are also in place to create a series of exhibits dedicated to historical archaeologists, including Giuseppe Fiorelli, Vittorio Spinazzola, and Amedeo Maiuri, along with other interactive, state of the art exhibition rooms. The rest of the site will be devoted to academic study and accessibility – part of the building will become home to a branch of the National Archaeological Museum of Naples and the city’s National Library, while more than half of the site will become teaching spaces and accommodation for the University of Naples Federico II. The space will be completed with a bookshop, café, and panoramic terrace.


The entire project has been funded for 158 million euros. With work now in progress, the aim is to complete the entire renovation of the Albergo dei Poveri by the middle of 2026. Paolo Giulierini, MANN’s director, sees the exciting new venture as a key cultural coup for the area, which he hopes will attract visitors from far and wide. He calls MAAN 2, “an epochal urban regeneration project that will leave its mark on Naples”.

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By Rosie LessoMA Contemporary Art Theory, BA Fine ArtRosie is a contributing writer and artist based in Scotland. She has produced writing for a wide range of arts organizations including Tate Modern, The National Galleries of Scotland, Art Monthly, and Scottish Art News, with a focus on modern and contemporary art. She holds an MA in Contemporary Art Theory from the University of Edinburgh and a BA in Fine Art from Edinburgh College of Art. Previously she has worked in both curatorial and educational roles, discovering how stories and history can really enrich our experience of art.