The National Archeological Museum is one of the most ancient and important museums for the abundance and uniqueness of its heritage and for the contribution it offered the European cultural survey.
The origin and the constitution of its collections are connected with Charles III of Bourbon, on the throne of the Kingdom of Naples since 1734, and his cultural policy. The king promoted the exploration of the Vesuvian towns buried by the eruption of 79 AD (started in 1738 in Herculaneum, in 1748 in Pompeii) and looked after the carrying out of a “Museo Farnesiano” in the town, transferring from the palaces of Rome amd Parma part of the rich collection inherited from his mother Elizabeth Farnese.
His son Ferdinando IV stimulated the project for the joining together in the present building, constructed at the end of the 16th century as a riding school and from 1616 till 1777 seat of University, both the Farnese Collection (Collezione Farnese) and the collection of Vesuvian findings already exhibited in the “Museo Ercolanense” inside the Royal Palace in Portici.
From 1777 the building was subjected to a long series of renovation works and extension plans entrusted to the architects F. Fuga and P. Schiantarelli. In the decade of the French domination (1806-1815) the first works were carried out and with the return of the Bourbons to Naples in 1816 the building was denominated “Real Museo Borbonico”. Conceived as a Universal Museum, it housed institutes and laboratories (Real Biblioteca, Accademia del Disegno, Officina dei Papiri…), subsequently transferred to other seats in 1957.
The collections of the Museum, become National in 1860, went enriching by the acquisition of findings coming from the excavations in the sites of Campania and Southern Italy and from private collections. The transfer of the Picture-Gallery to Capodimonte in 1957 determines its present characterization of Archeological Museum.