One of the most important archaeological museums in Italy, it is mainly renowned for a very important Etruscan collection and an amazing Egyptian section, second in Italy (the first is in Turin).
The Museum was opened in 1888 when most of the Etruscan, Greek and Roman works collected by the Medici and the Lorraine families were moved from the Uffizi Gallery to the Palazzo della Crocetta (a 16th C. Medici property). A few years later, Egyptian works discovered by a French-Tuscan expedition to Egypt (1828) were moved to the museum and there arranged.
The Egyptian section shows works from Prehistory to the Copt era: steles, pottery, amulets, small bronzes and fabrics. The Etruscan section includes a huge collection of cinerary urns, sarcophagi, stone and bronze sculptures, small bronzes, home tools and pottery.
Important marble and bronze sculptures are displayed in the Greek-Roman section, along with a big collection of Greek painted pottery. A new splendid section has been recently added, with Etruscan and Roman precious stones, gems, cameos and jewellery.
Among the main Egyptian works there are some statues (Amenophi’s time), a military chariot (18th Dynasty), a pillar from the tomb of Sety I, the “square lip” faience goblet, the portrait of a lady from Fayum, the collection of Copt fabrics.
The most important Etruscan works are three celebrated big bronzes:
- the Arezzo Chimera (IV century B.C.)
- the “Arringatore” (Orator) (I century B.C.)
- the Minerva (IV century B.C.)
along with famous funerary sculptures:
- the stone Mater Matuta (460-450 B.C.)
- the terracotta Sarcophagus of Larthia Seianthi (II century B.C.)
- the painted marble Sarcophagus of the Amazons (IV century B.C.)
Dating back to Greek-Roman times are:
- the renowned bronze Head of a Horse, once belonged to Lorenzo the Magnificent
- the bronze “Idolino” (Small Idol) from Pesaro
- the marble “Milani” Apollo and Little Apollo (VI century B.C.)
The real gem of the museum is an Attic black-figures crater called “François Vase” (VI century B.C.).