National Archaeological Museum of Cagliari: discovering Sardinia
The National Archaeological Museum of Cagliari is inside the Museum Citadel in the spaces designed by architect and engineer Piero Gazzola together with architect Libero Cecchini.
According to the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Tourism (Mibact), the National Archaeological Museum of Cagliari is “the most important exhibition of antiquities in Sardinia”. Here are preserved objects of the extraordinary historical importance of the island and the cultures that have crossed it from the pre-Nuragic age until the early Middle Ages. Although the finds come mainly from the provinces of Cagliari and Oristano, there are some objects from other municipalities of Sardinia.
The history of the National Archaeological Museum of Cagliari goes back to 1800 when the Knight Lodovico Baylle proposed to the Viceroy Carlo Felice to set up the Cabinet of Archaeology and Natural History in a room of the Viceregio palace, of which direction was then entrusted to Knight De Prunner.
In the beginning, the museum was conceived as a “wunderkammer”, a German term meaning “chamber of wonders” or “cabinet of curiosities and wonders”, and was prepared to house a series of unique and valuable objects. With the interest and work of Baylle and Prunner, the collection grew in a short time, enriched with antiques, minerals, and animals, which had also been donated by private individuals. In 1802, the exhibition space was open to the public.
A few years later, the Viceroy donated the Cabinet collection to the Royal University of Cagliari, which, in 1806, was transferred to the university of Palazzo Belgrano. In 1857 the spaces dedicated to zoological, mineralogical, and archaeological finds were enlarged, and a room was reserved for the mineralogical museum with exhibits organized in two different sectors, one for material culture and one for stone finds. A year later, the mineralogical finds were transferred to the various university premises while new spaces were created for the antiques.
Despite the vicissitudes linked to the succession of the various directors of the museum, the collection continued to grow with the numerous donations, including those of Spano, Castagnino, Timon, Caput, Cara, and excavation campaigns. The new treasures were first housed in a lapidary cabinet then, in 1895, the entire collection was moved to some rooms of Palazzo Vivanet in Via Roma.
During the early years of the twentieth century, more precisely in 1904, the Royal Archaeological Museum was made in the building of Piazza Indipendenza that had housed the Royal Mint, designed by architect Dionigi Scano. Archaeologist and Superintendent of the antiquities of Sardinia Antonio Taramelli took care of the exhibition.
The exhibition consisted of seven rooms: Pre-nuragic Sardinia, Roman and Punic-Roman Sardinia, statuary gallery, medallist, Christian age, Roman lapidary garden, medieval lapidary garden, and on the first floor of the palace where medieval paintings and objects. In 1914 the collection expanded with the acquisition of 1500 exhibits belonging to the Goüin collection, and the addition of materials from new excavations.
In 1993, the museum was moved to its current location, within the complex of the Citadel of the Museums which has various social profiles and a blog since 2013. Since 2019 the National Archaeological Museum of Cagliari is a Mibact Institute and has special autonomy, and includes the Archaeological Museum, the Art Gallery, the San Pancrazio Space, and the ex Regio Museum.
National Archaeological Museum of Cagliari: the halls, hours, and the cost of tickets
The National Archaeological Museum of Cagliari is divided into four exhibition floors: ground floor, first floor, second floor, and third floor. Between the first and second floors, there is a half-floor that houses the Educational Space where educational activities and conferences take place.
The collections are on the four floors corresponding to different exhibition themes. The ground floor offers a chronological-didactic itinerary that tells the story of Sardinia from the ancient Neolithic to the Early Middle Ages, and the materials on display come from the first private collections and several archaeological excavations.
Continuing the visit, the first floor is divided into two thematic paths: the first is dedicated to the evolution of the city of Cagliari and its surrounding centers, while the second one shows the main nuragic centers. The journey through the history of the island continues on the second floor, where some of the most important archaeological sites in Sardinia are represented, such as Monte Sirai, Sant’Antioco, Bithia, and Nora. In this room, there are also prehistoric finds, Roman and late-ancient finds.
Finally, we reach the third floor that hosts the temporary exhibitions and, since 2014, the majority of the nuragic statues of Monte Prama, one of the oldest examples of stone statuary in the Mediterranean.
The National Archaeological Museum of Cagliari is in the highest part of the city in Piazza Arsenale 1, Castello district, one of the historic districts of the city (Quartieri di Cagliari). It is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 9.00 to 20.00, and the ticket office closes at 19.15.
The full ticket for admission to the museum has a cost of 7 €, the reduced ticket of 3.50 € and for young people from 18 to 25 years, the price is 2 €. Guided tours need to be reserved.
It is also possible to buy the cumulative ticket that allows entry to the museum and the National Art Gallery of Cagliari:
- Young people from 18 to 25 years: € 4,00 Museum + Art Gallery
- Cumulative whole: € 9,00 Museum + Art Gallery
- Cumulative reduction: €4.50 Museum + Art Gallery
For more information, please call from Tuesday to Sunday, from 9.00 to 20.00, the numbers 070 655911 and 070 60518248