National Archaeological Museum of Florence
Inaugurated by king Victor Emmanuel II in 1870 in the buildings of the Cenacolo di Fuligno on via Faenza, the first museum consisted principally of Etruscan and Roman items. The collections grew quickly, and the museum was transferred to the Crocetta Palace on the Via della Pergola in 1880. The Crocetta Palace had originally been built in 1620 for Maria Maddalena de' Medici, daughter of Ferdinand de' Medici.
The heart of the museum's collections were the family collection of the Medici and Lorraine. Up to 1890, items would continue to be transferred from the Uffizi. The Egyptian section came in part from the collections of Pierre Leopold of Tuscany from the first half of the 18th century, and from an 1828 expedition championed by the same Grand Duke. A museum on the topography of the Etruscans was later added, but it was destroyed during the 1966 floods.
Your visit to the Museum starts with the section dedicated to Egyptian arts and the finds of the Paleolithic Age, the prehistoric Egypt about two million years ago. The long history of the Egyptian people and culture is narrated by objects of diverse dating and origins: domestic utensils, beauty instruments, and various items related to the ritual of mummification.
Artifacts relative to the Protodynastic Age follow, representative of the Ancient, Middle, and New Reigns, until the age of Copta (310 BC).
Among the cult objects of this polytheist civilization, the Museum exhibits some fragments of papyrus, which are chapters from the Book of the Dead describing the ritual for the survival of the soul in the afterlife, an exceptional facet of this great people.
The second section of the Museum is dedicated to Etruscan art, beginning with funerary sculpture and terracotta urns. The Mater Matuta is the most important find in room IX: a funerary urn in the shape of a woman with a baby in her arms, symbol of fertility and motherhood. The artifacts were found in Chiusi, Chianciano, and Volterra, and date between the 4th and 7th century BC.
One of the most famous artifacts exhibited in the museum is the Etruscan bronze sculpture of a wounded chimera, dated to the 4th century. The probably sacred object represents a lion with the head of a goat and a serpent's tail.
The Etruscan section also holds a bronze collection rich with devotional objects, domestic utensils, small bronzes of animals and human figures in the act of making offerings. Finally, there is a series of ancient bronze arms for attack (daggers, helmets, knives, and lances) and shields for defense, providing protection for the heart.
The third section is dedicated to the Attica Ceramics: funerary amphorae, geometric cups, and vases from the 8th century BC. Notice the vases painted with the black-figure technique asserted to be from the 6th century BC. Scenes from everyday life as well as mythological images, athletic competitions and races decorate the production of the famous Attic painter Lydòs (560 b.C.).
Between 550 and 530 BC the attention of the Attic ceramicists focused on few personages and dramatic scenes, culminating in the narration of the deeds of courageous heroes. The famous Hidrìa, a vase for drawing water covered with scenes of women at the fountains is a remarkable piece on view in Room II.
A fourth section holds numerous Roman bronzes: portraits, helmets, statues, and masks of noble and valorous heroes. Very important are the two Elogia Arretina, dedicated to Quinto Fabio Massimo and Appio Claudio Cieco: two marble tablets that illustrate the name, career, and the military and political enterprise of the two illustrious Romans.
Particular information is available to the visitor in each room.