Library of the National Archeological Museum of Naples

Opening hours: It is open to the public Monday,  Tuesday and Thursday from 9.00 a.m. to 3.00 p.m., it is closed in August.


+39 081 4422135

Person in charge: Mrs  Maria Rosaria Esposito

 +39 081 4422209

Guided visits

The Library of the National Archeological Museum of Naples offers a free service of guided visits organized by the internal staff, which are made on reservation, for a maximum number of 30 people per group, exclusively on days and hours arranged.

New accession report

NA 2015 1

NA 2015 2

NA 2015 3

NA 2016 1

Publications available for exchanges



It was constituted in the 19th century, in the historical building which houses the National Archeological Museum of Naples, as an instrument of study of the most important museum and institute of preservation of Southern Italy: ”Real Museo Borbonico e Soprintendenza Generale degli Scavi del Regno delle Due Sicilie”, the history and the activity of which are documented until today.

It has increased its heritage over time thanks to volumes purchased for the necessities of the Institute, volumes coming from suppressed ecclesiastic funds, books donated by superintendents and functionaries, by scholars and visitors of the Museum and archeological sites or through bibliographic exchanges with other institutes. It has been the library, just to mention some famous names, of Michele Arditi, the first Superintendent and Director of the Museum between 1808 and 1831, Giuseppe Fiorelli, Ettore Gabrici and Amedeo Maiuri. All the people who have contributed to the knowledge and preservation of our monuments have left traces of their work by means of their publications, as it still happens. Today, whereas it continues being a “technical” library, it has become a point of reference for the studies of Archeology, showing its potential for documentation and information centre.

Since it is the library of the Superintendency and of the Museum – specialized in Classical Archeology and in other subjects connected with the study of ancient civilizations – it largely documents the activities of preservation, promotion, research and exhibition. Its heritage, which is increased by purchases, exchanges, gifts and grants, consists of more than 40.000 volumes, about 5.000 of which published between the 16th and the 19th century, and of 643 magazines, 74 of which current.
The Library is in possession of graphic material and a small section of electronic resources.

Rooms and sections



Historical notes by Mrs Maria Rosaria Esposito

There is not any official deed which ratifies the birth of the Library of the Museum.

An archive document bearing the date of December 15th 1901, when the Museum and the Superintendency (which had the jurisdiction over the whole territory of Campania in those times) were directed by Ettore Pais, reports the following words: «[…] dalle varie raccolte antiche e recenti di libri che prima erano sparse per il Museo, si è venuta formando una vera Biblioteca, la quale, appunto perché sorge ora, ha bisogno d’essere organizzata […]».

As a matter of fact, perhaps no other town building, such as the Museum, has housed so many different book collections.
Beginning from the “Public Library”, for which Giulio Cesare Fontana, entrusted by Viceroy Pedro Fernandez Count of Lemos,
transformed the sixteenth century riding school into Palazzo dei Regi Studi and planned the “Gran Sala” (Hall of Atlante or the Sundial) in the central body of the building. In 1615 the “Public Studies” (Studi Pubblici), moved from Convento S. Domenico Maggiore, were inaugurated in the new still incomplete seat on the eastern side. In 1777 the Library of Regia Università degli Studi was moved, to make room for the Museum, to the suppressed Collegio Massimo dei Gesuiti al Salvatore and led to the foundation of the Biblioteca Universitaria of Naples.

Moreover, the Reale Biblioteca (“Royal Library”) was inaugurated on January 13th 1804 in the presence of the king Ferdinando I as part of the new museum of the capital. Become “Bourbon” in 1816 and declared “National” in 1860, it was moved from the building of the Museum to the Royal Palace in Piazza del Plebiscito in 1925.
In 1868 the Reale Istituto di Belle Arti had already left the Museum, which had been its original seat, together with the Library founded in 1849 for students in order to be transferred to the ex-convent of “San Giovanni delle Monache” restored and adapted to the new use by Enrico Alvino.
In 1817 another town institute had asked Director Michele Arditi for hospitality in the Museum to store its library and archives: the “Società Reale Borbonica“, which – composed of Accademia Ercolanense di Archeologia, Accademia delle Scienze and Accademia di Belle Arti,- organized its meetings at the Museum.

The Società Reale, founded in 1808 by Giovanni Bonaparte’s decree and renamed “Società Reale Borbonica” by Ferdinando I Borbone in 1817, derived from the Reale Accademia Ercolanense of 1755. The Museum housed it until 1861. It is logical to think that its library was then transferred – completely or partially – to the ex-Jesuitic Convent at Via Mezzocannone, where Ferdinando had tried to give that Academy new life, founding it again in 1780 as “Reale Accademia delle Scienze e delle Belle Lettere” and where it is still located, even if with modifications of the seat inside the building, with the new name “Società Nazionale di Scienze, Lettere e Arti” assigned to it in 1948.

In 1828 Marquis Michele Arditi, Director of the “Real Museo”, had donated a part of his private collection of Roman medals and, to increase its splendour, his numismatic library, which was delivered to the Museum on August 27th 1831. The Library of Medals (Biblioteca del Medagliere) is the first collection of books, among those taken into consideration up to here, still in the building. Connected with the collection of coins for its classification, it consists of about 2000 documents and it is part of the Library of the Museum.
In 1861-62 some collections of books, belonging to suppressed religious orders, were divided among the town libraries. Some documents of the period relate that the Museum Board began to build up a library collecting and classifying the few rare works neglected for a long time in the Library of Medals, closed by the Bourbon Government in 1849 and reopened in those times.

An archive note dated December 2nd 1861 informs about the proposal that the books of the suppressed Jesuit Order, relating to numismatics and archeology, “are carried and introduced into the Library of the Museum, so that they can be studied and consulted by the lovers of the ancient world”.
The Library of the Museum added books of private libraries, besides collecting books coming from suppressed monasteries, from the libraries of S. Martino Museo and Scuola Archeologica di Pompei founded by Giuseppe Fiorelli in 1866 to direct the excavations of Pompeii.
All this is demonstrated by archive documents and by those elements which trace the history and origins of a book, such as stamps, classifications, catalogues, ex-libris and dedications.

In 1879 the rich library “Santangelo” was for sale, so the Director of the National Museum Giulio De Petra suggested the General Director Fiorelli to buy the books of Numismatics which could be interesting for the Institute.
More detailed news about location and organization of the Library of the Museum date back to the 20th century.
The “Report” of the Committee for the organization of the rooms of the National Museum and Library (which were in the same building in that time) written by Benedetto Croce in 1902 informs that the “special library of the Museum” was already in the part of the building where it is at present, occupying one of the five rooms belonging to the Museum offices that bordered the terrace of the northern side of the eastern courtyard.

When a more general re-arrangement of the heritage of the Museum, of the excavations of Pompeii and of the inventories of the institute was carried out, the “Giornale delle immissioni delle pubbicazioni” of the Library of the National Museum of Naples was issued. The front page of the publication bears the date June 28th 1904 and the stamp “BIBLIOTECA DEL MUSEO NAZIONALE-NAPOLI” (Library of the National Museum-Naples), which is on many books of the present Library. On December 28th 1906 the archeologist Ettore Gabrici (1868-1962), teacher of Ancient History on service at the Museum, was charged with the Direction of the Library by the Director of the Museum in order that he coordinated its arrangement and perfect functioning.

In the first twenties of the 20th century the Library was structured in the same way as today (in 1995 two new rooms for the reading public and for the organization of bibliographic heritage were added). In May 1920 the technical office of “Soprintendenza alle Antichità della Campania e del Molise” and the National Museum, directed by Vittorio Spinazzola at that time, collaborated in planning a project for the completion of a new room and the organization of the old room devoted to Library of the Museum. The latter was in great disorder because of the small space, it was necessary to put it in the conditions of working. The Report enclosed in the Project clearly explains the reasons of the works: “the room is too small, there are not sufficient bookcases, many volumes are on the tables or scattered over the floor. In these conditions it is very difficult to find a book”. In order to organize the important collection rationally, a new room was built on the covered terrace looking north of the eastern courtyard, next to the room already occupied by the Library and today between the room overlooking the embankment of the Museum and the room overlooking the inner courtyard.
Works in ebony and wood were carried out for the bookcases of the new room and of the high “balcony”, for the passageway between the two rooms of the library and for the bookcases of the old room also provided with a balcony. A wooden staircase was placed in order to access the galleries of the two rooms. The works were completed on September 10th 1921. The last room to be arranged was the room with the window which overlooks the eastern courtyard.

For further information:

    1. Cantilena, La gran sala della Meridiana, in Fasti Farnesiani, Napoli 1988, 14-27.
    1. E. Esposito, La Biblioteca della Soprintendenza, sede di Napoli, in MiBAC. Cultura a porte aperte 28-30 ottobre 2009, Campania, I pubblici del MiBAC, [Roma], 2009, 140-141.
    1. Finati, Il regal Museo Borbonico descritto da Giovambattista Finati, T. 1., pt. 1.: Delle statue, Napoli 1817.


Giornale degli scavi di Pompei, Napoli, n. s., 1, 1868.

    1. Milanese, Il Museo Reale di Napoli al tempo di Giuseppe Bonaparte e di Gioacchino Murat, in RIASA, s. 3, 19-20, 1996-1997, 345-405.
    1. Pozzi Paolini, Il Museo archeologico nazionale di Napoli in due secoli di vita, in Da Palazzo degli studi a Museo archeologico, Napoli 1977, 1-27.
Bibliography about the Library
Bibliography about the Library

Da Palazzo degli Studi a Museo archeologico : Mostra storico-documentaria del Museo Nazionale di Napoli, giugno-dicembre 1975. – Napoli: [s.n.], 1977 (Napoli: Stab. Arte Tipografica di A. R.)

Solimene Giovanni, La Biblioteca della Soprintendenza archeologica di Napoli e Caserta,  in Accademie e Biblioteche d’Italia anno XLIX (1981), n.4-5

Esposito Maria Rosaria, La Biblioteca  della Soprintendenza, Napoli, in MIBAC, I pubblici del MiBac. Culture a porte aperte: 28-30 ottobre 2009, Roma 2009, p. 140-141

Esposito Maria Rosaria, La collezione dei rami incisi, in Città vesuviane: antichità e fortuna: il suburbio e l’agro di Pompei, Ercolano, Oplontis e Stabiae. – Roma: Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana fondata da Giovanni Treccani, 2013, p. 42-49

La Biblioteca del Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli: la formazione, il fondo antico, libri su viaggi e antichità / a cura di Maria Rosaria Esposito; with the contribution of Piera Russo. Napoli: Giannini, 2016

Library of Medals (Biblioteca del Medagliere)
Library of Medals

Library of Medals (Biblioteca del Medagliere)

Reservation is mandatory to consult the about 2000 publications of Numismatics which are placed in the rooms of the Library of Medals reserved for scholars.

Olga Elia Fund
Olga Elia Fund

Olga Elia Fund (Fondo Olga Elia)

It contains about 1400 volumes belonging to the archeoligist Olga Elia (1902-1977), who collaborated, as a functionary of “Soprintendenza alla Antichità della Campania e del Molise”, in cataloguing the wall paintings of Pompeii and rearranging several collections of the Archeological Museum of Naples and the “Antiquarium” of Pompeii.

Zancani Montuoro Fund (Fondo Zancani Montuoro)

Zancani Montuoro Fund (Fondo Zancani Montuoro)

The library of Paola Zancani Montuoro (1901-1987), discoverer of the “Heraion” at the mouth of Sele together with Umberto Zanotti Bianco, consists of about 3000 publications. It was donated by the family with the support of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei and in 1955 it was transferred from Villa del Pizzo in S. Agnello di Sorrento, the archeologist’s last residence, to the Archeology Laboratory at Via S. Maria ad Agnone controlled by the Superintendency in cooperation with the Istituto Universitario Orientale and the Centre Jean Berard. Reservation is mandatory.



Catalogue on line of the Library of the National Archeological Museum of Naples– Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici di Napoli

The paper catalogues, which can be consulted in place for authors, titles and subjects, register the publications acquired until 2006, when the Library became part of the National Library Service, a network of more than 5800 libraries which allows the cooperative management of services and cataloguing. The library heritage is immediately visible in the catalogues on line (OPAC) of the “Indice SBN” and of the Library, which allow a free and simplified search with different keywords. The OPAC of the Library registers all the publications acquired after 2006. The recovery of the catalogues of historical funds is under execution; therefore it contains more than 15000 bibliographic news at present, about 2000 of which can be found, on a national scale, only in the Library of the Museum.

Regulations DPR 417/95
Regulations DPR 417/95

Regulations DPR 417/95

Internal Regulations


Admission is allowed by a written admission request to the Library and the drawing up of the entry paper. The user should be provided with an identification card.

Before entering the reading room, the user should deposit bags, folders and any other objects in special lockers placed at the entrance. Moreover, the user should respect the rules, which regulate the use of public places, being careful not to damage the heritage of the institute, not to write or mark, even in pencil, books or documents of the Library, not to disturb the study and work activities and not smoke.


Library material to be consulted should be requested by drawing up an application form delivered by the Library. The user can request up to three reading texts; after completing the consultation of the volumes, the user can request to consult other books. Consultation requests can be presented till half an hour before the closing hour. It is forbidden to consult documents which are not in a good state. Rare and precious handwritten material could be consulted only after accurate evaluation of the applicant’s reasons from the person in charge of the Library. As regards this material it is possible to present a request at a time. If the Library has a reproduction of this material, it can be consulted instead of the original.

Users can propose the Library their own “desiderata” both on line and giving them directly to the staff. These “desiderata“ would be taken into consideration according to the possible availability of funds and after an accurate evaluation from the staff of the Office.


Users can benefit by a service of guidance and bibliographic information.

Being a library of consultation, volumes are not lent.

For study, in the respect of the provisions of the law in force and for the preservation of works, users could copy the bibliographic material with their own means, by the Director’s authority received.

Users can use a personal computer in the reading room. However, they can not connect with Internet from the Library.

Publications of the Library

La Biblioteca del Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli. La formazione, il fondo antico, libri di viaggi e antichità / curated by Maria Rosaria Esposito with the contribution of Piera Russo. Napoli: Giannini, 2016

Slide thumbnail
Slide thumbnail
Slide thumbnail
Slide thumbnail
Slide thumbnail
Slide thumbnail
Slide thumbnail
Comments are closed.