Results 1-8of 8 Reviews
St. Augustine, Florida
June 25, 2010
From journal Two Short Days in Napoli
St. Louis, Missouri
September 12, 2005
Wandering through the upper levels of the museum offers up-close views of some of the most well-preserved examples of Roman art. Enjoy intricate mosaics, including portraits, a massive and breath-taking battle scene featuring Alexander the Great, and a "Cave Canem" sign (the ancient equivalent of the "Beware of Dog" sign on the gate to your back yard). The faun statue from Pompeii's House of the Faun is also there, perfectly preserved (sorry, that was a modern replica you saw at the site). Wander through cases of ancient jewelry, admiring the tiny, hand-carved details.
And--the juiciest bit of all--visit the museum's notorious "Secret Cabinet." When Pompeii was first excavated, archeologists and the clergy alike were horrified by the abundance of sexual imagery and objects they found. In an effort to conceal the Romans’ dirty little secret, many of the objects--ranging from sculpture to fresco to bronze work - were removed and placed in an off-limits section of the museum. For years, most people didn't know the room existed and those who did had to apply for special permission to see the pieces. Now, the room is open to the public, though the museum still isn't bragging about it or publicizing it much (it still isn‘t mentioned on the museum's website). The items range from the piously religious (small sculptures of reproductive organs used as offerings by those who hoped to conceive) to the genuinely beautiful (an amazing fresco of the Three Graces) to the genuinely raunchy (most of which probably isn't appropriate to mention here). In ancient Rome, however, sexuality was viewed as both a highly sacred and a highly amusing part of life, and if the Secret Cabinet establishes anything (once you get over the initial shock), it is that very dramatic difference between the ancient Romans and society today.
The museum houses ancient sculpture not related to the sites destroyed by Vesuvius, but with the exception of a few select pieces (for example, the Farnese Bull), the real draw is the artifacts. They provide not the images of emperors and gods that you will see in most other museums, but instead let you look into the lives of average people, and that rare perspective is what makes the museum so unique.
From journal The Highlights of Campania
Oxford, United Kingdom
August 29, 2005
The museum contains many of the best archeological finds from Pompei and Herculanium, including some impressive mosaics. The Egyptian section is not a must-see, though the open sarcophagi, complete with withered bodies, promise some grizzly viewing. The main attraction here is the Gabinetto Segreto, which is definitely well worth a look. It has hundreds of ancient '"curiosities" collected by Neapolitan collectors over the years. Artifacts range from the hardly noticeable at first glance to the somewhat more noticeable statue of Pan seducing a goat! Entrance to the exhibit is included with your ticket, but sometimes you must ask at the front desk for an allocated viewing time.
From journal Naples - You either love it or hate it
July 22, 2005
From journal Napoli
September 28, 2004
This is Naples' big world-class museum. Its collection of ancient art is unparalleled. Upon entry you can visit a great collection of Roman artwork, possibly the best in the world, save that of the Vatican.
At its core is the Farnese Collection, which contains some amazing art which was excavated from the Baths of Caracolla in Rome. Indeed some of this sculpture was excavated while Michelangelo was working on the Sistine Chapel in Rome, and he commented on it in letters home to Florence. If you spend some time looking at the Farnese Hercules, make sure, later that you look for similar figures on that ceiling.
Besides Hercules, the Farnese Bull is a wonderful statue. Room-sized, it is a depiction of a woman being chained to a bull as a punishment for disrespecting another woman. After you've been awestruck by the grandeur of the piece as a whole, make sure you check out the incredible detail of the sculpture, the animals and objects and the plants sculptured on all sides of this incredible work.
Also on this floor is the jewel collection which includes some incredible cameos including the Farnese bowl, an amazing large cameo bowl, which is ancient and delicate, carved with amazing skill on both front and back.
Upstairs, an extensive Art Collection from the excavations at Pompeii and Herculeum sits. There are wonderful mosaics, most of which look like paintings. One of the most notable of this is the huge battle scene with Alexander the Great, which came from the House of the faun in Pompeii. Remember this mosaic when you visit Pompeii.
If you want, and if you ask when you come in, you can get access to the "Secret Cabinet" in the museum. This is a room full of erotica, from rough phallic sculpture to a detailed sculpture of Pan with a she-goat, to frescoes of the "menu" on the walls of Pompeian bordellos, to vases and mosaics, even wind chimes, all manner of erotic art is here. I'll put up my photo of the painting of the three graces, which is the tamest of this. Much would be inappropriate for public consumption.
Everyday cookware and various implements, including jewelry from Pompeii and herculeum are displayed, and there are innumerable other exhibits.
Another highlight are couple large depictions of the Pompeii site; a diorama and a map on the wall.
The museum has a well-stocked bookstore, and a beautiful open garden in the center (closed when we were there) with much beautiful sculpture.
Getting there via the subway, the closest stop is Piazza Cavour. There are also a number of busses and the like which stop there.
Tip: I recommend doing this museum BEFORE you go to Pompeii. It provides and excellent introduction.
From journal Weekend in Napoli
London, United Kingdom
December 3, 2003
Inside, there is an atmospheric nymphaeum, beautifully lit, hauled out of the sea just below the castle, with charming statues of young creatures. From a shrine at Misenum come two huge nude statues of Vespasian and Titus. They have the heads of ugly middle-aged men, and the bodies (literally) of Greek gods. Vespasian seems well aware of the incongruity--Titus just glowers. Another statue with the wrong head is a lively bronze, more than life-size, of a rider on a rearing horse. It was commissioned by Domitian, but when his successor Nerva murdered and replaced him, he appropriated the statue as well.
From journal Campi flegrei - up close and personal with volcano
August 6, 2003
It's light and airy, thoughtfully laid out, signposted (you get a map in English and Italian with your ticket) and there are numerous assistants if you have a question (though woe betide you if you take a photo
Of most interest perhaps are the numerous pieces brought for safekeeping from Pompei and Herculaneum (see entries below) (and lesser known Stabiae), including some quite breath-taking mosaics (mezzanine floor -- look in particular for the enormous mosaic of the handsome Macedonian leader,
Alexander the Great, astride his horse in mid-battle (hence "Battle of Alexander") shame really that it is not in situ on the floor of the Casa del Fauno in Pompeii but at least you can get up close now it's on the wall -- and the great, colourful scenes of fishes and squid/octopi, presumably used
either in a Roman kitchen or to advertise the wares of a Roman fishermonger?), some impressive and well-preserved bronze-works, on the first floor some impressive Roman frescos and paintings (Lord knows how they
got them off the walls), domestic furnshings and household goods.
Also look out on the first floor (room 94) for the excellent "Plastico di Pompei" - a scale model which will help you plan your trip or see where you've been.
So far as the mosaics are concerned, it helps I think to go to Pompei and
Herculaneum before coming to the museum so you can picture where the mosaics would once have lain -- conversely though seeing so many here makes you realise why perhaps the ancient sites are slightly less colourful that you might otherwise have expected.
There is also the material unearthed from Magna Grecia (Campagnoa and Southern Italy) such as the Vase of the Persians (first floor) and grave paintings from Cuma, Nola and Ruvo.
Admission 9-2pm every day save Tuesdays and Xmas/New Year's Days. Nearest underground is Piazza Cavour.
From journal Neapolitan delights
New York, New York
October 30, 2000
From journal The Gold of Naples