Our History


The National Archaeological Museum of Reggio Calabria was recognized as among the most prestigious archaeological museums in Italy when it was made autonomous by the MiBACT 2014 reform.

The building that houses it is one of the first in Italy to be designed with the  exclusive purpose of a museum. Marcello Piacentini, one of the leading exponents of the early twentieth century, conceived of the museum to have a modern style of exhibition, after he visited the main museums in Europe. Located in the heart of the city, the museum is an important element of the landscape and the life of all Calabria. Located next to De Nava Square in the center of the city, the southern façade faces the shore, with its splendid views of the Strait of Messina.

The National Archaeological Museum was born from the merger of the State Museum with the Museum of Reggio Calabria. The latter was inaugurated on June 18th, 1882, to guard the numerous archaeological remains of the area. Its headquarters were initially in the facilities of the Municipal Library, but with the increase of the collections, between 1887 and 1889, it was moved to a building located next to the Roman baths, recently discovered at that time. During the 1908 earthquake, the Museum building was severely damaged.  This accelerated the process of establishing a national archaeological museum, strongly supported by Paolo Orsi, among others, who in 1907 was named the first superintendent of the excavation in Calabria. On May 22nd, 1948, an agreement was signed between the City Council of Reggio Calabria and the General Directorate of Antiquities of the then Ministry of Education. After acquiring these collections from the civic museum, the latter was closed.

Partially opened to the public in 1954 and fully inaugurated in 1959, the Museum has undergone important transformations over the years. In 1981, the underwater archaeological section was created to make a fitting display for the Riace Bronzes, considered among the most significant masterpieces in the world of Greek art. Before the last reorganization, which completely modified the internal structure and the exhibition route, the precious collection of paintings belonging to the Civic Museum was moved to the second floor.  It can now be admired in the nearby Municipal Gallery.

In November 2009, the museum was closed for restoration and finally reopened to the public on April 30th, 2016. The principle feature of the current layout is the new inner courtyard, covered by a transparent glass roof, supported by a technologically advanced structure. Thanks to this, the atrium is flooded with light. The basement of the Piacentini Bulding houses two large rooms for temporary exhibitions. In the long side aisle there is a lapidary. The MArRC also has an internal archaeological area: a strip of the great Hellenistic Necropolis discovered during the construction of the building.

The Necrópolis Helenística

During the construction of the National Archaeological Museum of Reggio Calabria, in 1932, one of the necropolises related to the city of the Hellenistic region came to light. The large cemetery had to be developed for funerary use in the current Square de Nava and was connected to another area, located in the nearby area of ​​Santa Lucia, near Veneto Street. The excavated tombs, around 100, had several styles, from the simple ustrine (remains of pyre cremation) in the burial to cash to the most elaborate as the rooms in brick with barrel vault, for example.

The Necropolis dates from the 4th to the 2nd century BC, but the presence of older materials has led to the hypothesis that the area had been used with the same purpose since the Classical Age. Some burial findings are included in the new exposition route (at level E).

The Lapidary

The findings that make up the lapidary come from a nucleus donated by the Civic Museum of Reggio Calabria, later enriched by the findings of the numerous archaeological investigations carried out in the area. The section, located at level E, shows monumental inscriptions, marble bases and numerous architectural and decorative elements of various chronologies, capitals, columns belonging to different buildings of the Greek and Roman cities of Calabria.

The Deposit

Storage areas are located in the basement and contain the materials of the old civic collections and archaeological investigations on the regional territory, divided by geographic origin and contexts, with a subsequent breakdown in relation to the years of excavation.

The Photography Laboratoy

Located on the top floor of the Museum, the photographic laboratory is equipped with latest equipment for documentation and photographic reproduction of the findings. It is necessary to record images of objects, as well as inventory, documentation and control of the State of conservation. The laboratory is also the home of the photographic archives of the Museum and preserves, through images, the memory of artifacts and individual contexts.

The protagonists

  1. 1
    Monsignor Antonio Maria de Lorenzo

    Monsignor Antonio Maria de Lorenzo (1835-1904), pioneer of archaeological research in Reggio Calabria, was among the promoters of the institution of the Civic Museum, of which he was the deputy director at the time of the opening in 1882. From the same year conducted systematic archaeological excavations in the city area and contributed to the publication of all data collected during the course of his investigations. His research, of fundamental importance for the knowledge acquired on the urban area, was the basis of the realization of a first archaeological map of the city of the strait, document drawn up in 1893. Became archbishop of Miletus in 1889, he concluded his work in city of Rome with the title of Archbishop of Seleucia and Consultant of the Congregation of Indulgences and of the sacred relics.

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    Paolo Orsi

    Paolo Orsi, born October 17, 1859 in Rovereto (TN), in 1888 becomes Inspector of the excavations, museums and galleries in Syracuse, a position that allows him to deal with the Greek colonies of Sicily. In parallel, he is the author of the start of the great season of discoveries in Locri, he also assumes the position of Director of the Museum of Syracuse and becomes regent of the Royal Museum of Naples.Matured the knowledge of the Calabrian territory and including the need for protection interventions, asks the Ministry for the establishment of a Museum in Reggio Calabria and an autonomous Direction of excavations in Calabria of which he becomes Superintendent after a few years. Among the many researches he carried out on the field, we recall those in Locri, near the sanctuary of the Mannella and the temple of Casa Marafioti, in Canale and Janchina and in the Heraion of Capo Colonna. Together with Umberto Zanotti Bianco he participates in the activities of the “Magna Grecia Society”; it also promotes the foundation of the «Historical Archive for Calabria and Lucania». In the autumn of 1934 Orsi returned to Rovereto where he died in the following year.

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    Edoardo Galli

    Edoardo Galli was born in Maierà (CS) on 3 May 1880. After completing his studies in Rome he became Deputy Secretary and Inspector of the Royal Bargello Museum in Florence in 1907, he moved to the Etruscan Topographical Museum of which he was appointed director. In 1924 he was entrusted with the “sole” Superintendency of Antiquities and Mediate and Modern Art of Calabrie. Established in the following year the Superintendency Bruzio-Lucana became Superintendent until 1936. Thanks to the intervention of the Magna Grecia Society, the study of the Doric temple of Metaponto c.d. “Tavole Palatine” and starts a research program in the Piana di Sibari that leads to the identification of the Copy colony in 1932. His fervent research focuses on the indigenous sites of Francavilla Marittima, Amendolara, on the theater of Gioiosa Marina and Archaic Crotone. In Reggio Calabria a necropolis of the Hellenistic age was discovered during the excavation works for the realization of the Museum. He has the merit of having lavished his commitment to the establishment of the Royal National and Central Museum of Magna Graecia in Reggio Calabria. In 1936 he was transferred to Ancona as Superintendent of the Marches of Abruzzi and Dalmatia. Destined to the Library of the Institute of Archeology and History of Art at Palazzo Venezia he moved to Rome in 1946. He died in Rome in 1954.

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    Paolo Enrico Arias

    Paolo Enrico Arias was born in Vittoria (RG) on 17 July 1907. After completing his studies at the Scuola Normale di Pisa in 1934 he was appointed Inspector of Ragusa. He became Superintendent in Calabria in 1939. His first activities in the area saw him active in Rosarno and Locri, continuing his studies with Orsi. Thanks to his knowledge of theatrical architecture he identifies the theater of Locri near the temple of Casa Marafioti. In 1946 he was transferred to Bologna and undertook to reactivate the office after the war, two years later he was a professor in charge of Greek and Roman history at the University of Bologna. He returned to Sicily where he won the competition as an ordinary professor at the University of Catania. In 1962 he assumed the office of the Normale di Pisa where he became deputy director and founded the special school for archaeologists. For his scientific merits he is appointed a member of the National Council of Cultural Heritage and a member of the Accademia dei Lincei. He died in Pisa in 1998.

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    Alfonso De Franciscis

    Alfonso De Franciscis was born in Naples 7 November 1915. He graduated from the “Federico II” University and between 1939 and 1940 he attended the Italian Archaeological School of Athens. In 1949 he became an archaeologist inspector at the Superintendence of Antiquities in Naples. In 1954 he was appointed Superintendent in Reggio Calabria where he remained in office until 1961, in the same years he received the position of Professor of Archeology and History of Art at the University of Messina. During his stay in Calabria he reorganized and inaugurated the exposition of the Museum of Reggio conducts excavations in Reggio, Crotone and above all in Locri Epizefiri where he retrieves the bronze tablets from the archive of the temple of Zeus. In 1961 he became Superintendent of the Antiquities of Naples, professor at the Federico II University and Director of the Institute of Archeology. Among the many activities the arrangement of the section relating to the Villa dei Papiri operates, bringing to light the remains of the Augustan temple in Pozzuoli; in Ercolano he led the excavations of the maximum decumanus and the construction of a new Antiquarium. In Pompei near the numerous excavation activities, he concentrates his scientific attention on the instrumentum domesticum. He founded and directed the magazines for many years: “Klearchos”, “Pompeian Chronicles”, “Apollo” and “Campania Sacra”. He died in Naples in 1989.