Nafplio’s museum is located in Syntagma Square in a three story building constructed by the Venetians in 1713. The building is so well constructed and the walls so thick that it will probably be around in 2713. Previously, offices occupied the main floor and the museum was located on the second and third floors. It appeared that they were going through renovations because only the second floor was open for visitors. This could explain why admission was free when it is normally 2 euro.
The museum wasn’t all that large, possibly due to renovations but it still had some impressive exhibits. Their usual collection spans the ages from 8000 BC to 500 AD, quite an impressive time frame in Greek history. Most of the exhibits are from excavations in the Argolis region and I think it is currently one of the only places to see artifacts from Mycenae and Tiryns until the National Archaeological Museum in Athens reopens in 2004.
The museum had displays of small pottery vessels and jars found throughout the region. As well as large 13th century BC pottery urns from Nafplio, there was a terracotta mask from Tiryns that looked like a leering gremlin or an orc from Tolkien’s Middle Earth. Beside the gift shop were a couple of elongated stone figures that reminded me vaguely of Easter Island statues. For me, the highlight of the museum was a 15th century BC Mycenaean era bronze suit of armor from a tomb at Dendra, near Argos. The armor was comprised of four separate pieces -- collar, shoulder shields, breast plate, and lower section, and all four pieces were very well preserved.
Unlike many of the museums I’ve been in where staff were rather dour and serious, the staff at this museum were extremely friendly and cheerful and the lady at the gift shop was in the mood to chat and joke about the rainy weather. She gave me tips on what to see in Nafplio, including looking for peacocks on the outskirts of Old Town. There were few visitors and Easter was just around the corner which may have had something to do with her mood, but she made me feel very welcome and I enjoyed my visit here all the more because of her hospitality.
The museum is open year round, Tuesday through Sunday from 8:30am to 3pm. It isn’t suitable for anyone with mobility problems because the exhibits are on the second floor, up a steep set of stairs. Flash photography is not allowed inside the museum.