The Museum where the Riace Bronzes are displayed is the MArRC – Archaeological Museum of Reggio Calabria, formerly the National Museum of Magna Graecia. One of the leading museums in Italy since 2014, it was granted full autonomy following the reform by the then Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
The building housing the Museum was designed by Marcello Piacentini. It was the first in Italy specially designed to house a museum exhibition.
The building was designed by Piacentini, one of the greatest early 20th century architects, who conceived it in a modern key, inspired by other leading European museums. Located in the city centre, it is an important city landmark for tourists and citizens of Reggio alike.
The MArRC resulted out of the merger of the State Museum with the Municipal Museum of Reggio Calabria, opened at the end of the 19th century to house the numerous archaeological finds from this area. The building of the Municipal Museum was severely damaged by an earthquake in 1908. During the reconstruction of the earthquake-ravaged city, plans were made to establish a National Archaeological Museum. This idea was strongly advocated, among others, by Paolo Orsi – the first Superintendent of Excavations in Calabria appointed in 1907 – as well as by the great philanthropist and educator Umberto Zanotti Bianco. The two of them, also supported by Reggio’s more forward-thinking intellectuals, managed to overcome the opposition from a more reactionary part of the population. On 22 May 1948, an agreement was finalised between the Municipality of Reggio Calabria and the General Directorate of Antiquities under the then Ministry of Public Education. Under this agreement, the latter was to take over and acquire the collections of the Municipal Museum, which was abolished.
The Museum of the Bronzes and its many changes over the years
Partially opened to the public in 1954 and formally opened in 1959, over the years the Museum has undergone major changes. In 1981, the underwater archaeology section was set up to give greater visibility to the Riace Bronzes, considered to be among the world’s greatest examples of Greek art. Following the latest reorganization, its internal layout and exhibition itinerary have been thoroughly changed. For example, a precious collection of paintings belonging to the Museo Civico which used to be on display on the second floor is now exhibited in the nearby Pinacoteca Comunale.
In November 2009, the Museum was closed for renewal works and reopened to the public on 30 April 2016.
The New Layout
A new inner courtyard with a transparent glass ceiling is the key feature of the current layout, with an entrance hall – called Piazza Paolo Orsi – flooded with natural light.
The new permanent exhibition, resulting from the recently revamped building, has 220 showcases. Spread over four floors, it tells the history of human settlements in Calabria from prehistory to Roman times. The visit begins on the second floor (Prehistory and Protohistory; Metal Age), continues on the first floor (Cities and Temples in Magna Graecia), the mezzanine (Necropolis and Daily Life in Magna Graecia: Sibari, Crotone, Hipponion, Kaulonia, Cirò and Laos; Lucanians and Brettians), and ends on the ground floor (Reggio; the Hall of Riace and Porticello Bronzes). The basement (level E) is reserved to temporary exhibitions.
Website Museum; www.museoarcheologicoreggiocalabria.it