The Naples Archaeological Museum was well worth visiting. There was a lot to see and it was well organised, although there wasn’t much in the way of explanations in English, so we were glad we hired audio guides.
I particularly enjoyed seeing the Farnese Bull, which was found in the Baths of Caracalla, which we had previously visited when we were in Rome. This piece was carved from one block of marble, and portrays the punishment of Dirce who, according to Green mythology, persecuted Antiope. Antiope’s two sons are the ones tying Dirce to an angry bull.
I also really enjoyed seeing the portraits of notable Roman politicians and emperors, including Julius Caesar, Emperor Tiberius, Emperor Claudius, Emperor Vespasian, Emperor Domitian, Emperor Marcus Aurelius, Emperor Lucius Veras, and Emperor Caracalla.
There was also two large seated statues of seated emperors that were found at Herculaneum and restored.
There were a lot of amazing sculptures and busts there, such as the Bust of a Barbarian, and the River God bust that was originally part of a fountain.
The museum also had a plastic model of Pompeii in the scale of 1:100. This model was designed and built during the late 1800s-early 1900s and was regularly transported between Naples and Pompeii. This model was important, especially during WWII, because at some stages it was the only existing documentation of areas of Pompeii that were damaged or destroyed during the war. It was disassembled during WWII to protect it, and was placed in the Archaeological Museum in 1950. It is missing some of the more recent excavations.
The museum also has a ‘Secret Cabinet’, which houses various erotic artworks and items that were found in Pompeii and Herculaneum. We didn’t take many photos in there, and I am choosing not to post any because it isn’t particularly child friendly. It isn’t that hard to find some pictures of the items housed here elsewhere online. This room does give a bit of an insight into their culture and mytical beliefs. Some of these artworks and sculptures that do not seem quite appropriate today, were once on display in their homes and gardens. When these items were discovered, they were initially locked away in a secret museum, which was later opened to men only. It was later closed for quite a few years, and has been open in the Naples Archaeological Museum since 2005.
The museum also had an impressive collection of busts and statues that were found in the Villa dei Papiri, or Villa of the Papyri, a luxurious noble residence discovered on the outskirts of Herculaneum.
Our museum visit became quite exciting when a large crowd of people began gathering in the entrance around a covered sculpture. Due to not being able to understand Italian, we had no idea what was going on, and neither did the group of Americans who were standing next to us.
After the unveiling, we hazarded a guess that the whole occasion was something to do with a horse. Although we didn’t get much further with our speculations, we did very much enjoy watching the parade of costumed Italians and their horses.
We were very much entertained watching the parade progress onto the busy streets of Naples and the ensuing horn honking and animated discussions between commuters and the police.