A trip across the pond to a county with such historical significance as Italy practically requires a trip to a museum. No matter where you find yourself in Italy, the fusion of old and new in every aspect of the physical appearance of our surrounding begged for an explanation that only an archeologist could really provide, and the museo archeologico Nazionale di Napoli had exactly the perspective we were searching for. After scaling Vesuvius and exploring Pompeii, we called up our taxi and took the short trip into the city where we met up with my sister Bethany, a student studying abroad as part of her Classical Studies degree. Not only were we going to explore the museum, but we were fortunate enough to be accompanying her class for the full tour!
The first thing I noticed about the museum was the palatial building used to house the collection. I could write an entire post about the history of the building, but I will leave it to the reader if they want to investigate this topic further. You can start here.
After meeting up with Bethany, we began the tour with her presentation on the Alexander Mosaic. If you have been following the Wandering Italy series, you’ll remember that I mentioned the Alexander Mosaic in as part of the House of the Faun in Pompeii, and if you didn’t you can catch up with that post here. Afterwards, we had a chance to view some of the beautiful mosaics that had been recovered by archeologists at historic sites from all over the region. We spent hours wandering through the many different sculptures and art over the next few hours, but words hardly do them justice. Check out some of the pictures below to get an idea of the awe-inspiring collection they have assembled in Naples. Additionally, here you can find the complete catalogue of everything we viewed at the museum before you go yourself!
-WARNING NSFW CONTENT BELOW-
In addition to the many beautiful and historic sculptures and artifacts that are located in the museum, there is also a portion of the museum dedicated to more adult themed artifacts that have been recovered from brothels and are similar sites. Known as the Gabinetto Segreto, the Secret Cabinet collection has a very interesting history as it has been repeatedly censored in various capacities in the past. Wikipedia can tell you more here, but from what we were able to gather the obscene collection did not always fit with the posh views of history that many individuals wished to present to the general observer. If you are interested in why people may have hung phallic oil lamps around the house or had erotic paintings on the walls, I would recommend you investigate the Roman views on sexuality and their perspective on obscenity – after all, part of being a good traveler is learning to view culture through the appropriate lens when at all possible. All of the following images carry more an adult flare, so don’t say we didn’t warn you…..
As the hours passed, we made it a point to see as many of the exhibits as we possibly could. We even found a section on Egyptian artifacts from the region, which really opened my eyes to the influence of international trade in Pompeii and Herculaneum that I had not conceived of before reading through the exhibit. If you are interested, you can read more here. After finishing up our tour, the three of us ventured a little further into Naples in search of some food – because wandering a museum for hours at a time leaves you famished. In a shop that was more like a broom closet that a room we grabbed some street food and chowed down while we waited for the taxi to pick us up and take us back to the Hotel Forum.
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