Archaeological Museum of Bologna

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the archaeological civic museum mca of bologna
the archaeological civic museum mca of bologna

The Civic Archaeological Museum of Bologna (MCA) is strongly recommended for history lovers as well as for all those who wish to learn more about the roots and origins of our land.

Our beautiful peninsula offers countless cities and villages where you can breathe history and culture. Italy is a bottomless pit in which to draw places that meet all the expectations of millions of tourists from all over the world.

Certainly, the Emilian capital is among those cities that does not betray any expectations, especially with regard to culture.

Table of Contents

The Archaeological Civic Museum of Bologna in a Nutshell

The Civic Archaeological Museum of Bologna, considered among the most important museums in the city, collects Italian archaeological evidence and is highly representative of local history. This is because it collects historical finds ranging from ancient Prehistory to Roman times.

The museum organizes guided tours and workshops for school students.

The average duration of the visit is about 1 hour and a half and it is recommended (no longer mandatory) the use of the FFP2 mask.

In order to make the most of the visit to the museum, you can download from its website a pdf leaflet that describes the collections, the list of the main works, a map of the various floors and numerous photos.

Where is it?

The Archaeological Museum is located in Via dell’Archiginnasio 2 inside the ancient Palazzo Galvani.

Opening Hours and Costs

The Museum is open for visits on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9.00 to 14.00, on Thursdays from 15.00 to 19.00 and from Friday to Sunday (including holidays) from 10.00 to 19.00.

The weekly closing day is Tuesday unless it is a public holiday. The other closing days for national holidays are May 1st and December 25th.

The entrance fee is 6 euros for adults, 3 euros for visitors who fall into special categories and 2 euros for those aged between 18-25 years.

Admission is free every first Sunday of the month between October-March, the last 2 hours of Thursday between April-September and for holders of the Culture Card.

The ticket office closes 1 hour before closing time, however it is also possible to book and buy it online.

The collections

There are really numerous collections that collect finds divided according to their era of belonging.

the archaeological civic museum mca of bologna - collection
Collection of the Archaeological Civic Museum (MCA) of Bologna - collection- Sailko, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

1.Prehistoric section

This collection catalogs prehistoric materials dating back to the Paleolithic Ages lower than that of the final Bronze Age, from about 700,000 years ago to the tenth century BC.

For lovers of this historical period, you can admire tools such as spikes, double-sided and scrapers in flint and ftanite. The most numerous artifacts on display testify to the Bronze Age with bone, horn and metal tools and ceramic containers.

2.Etruscan collection

It collects what the excavations carried out in the surroundings of Bologna have brought to light regarding the Etruscan settlement between the VI-V century BC. The oldest period is represented by the 4,000 grave goods given by biconical vases, bronze tools and pottery.

Among them stand out the Askos Benacci, very rare vases to contain oil for lamps, those of the Great Tomb and the Tomb of the stool. Even the Iron Age is witnessed by a princely tomb accompanied by a throne, footrests, tables and pottery.

3.Gallic collection

The Gallic civilization, which invaded these lands putting an end to the Etruscan one, is well represented by the kit found in the local Gallic necropolis consisting of iron weapons and banquet pottery.

4.Roman lapidary

The statue of the emperor Nerone with armor, milestones of the Via Emilia and above all sepulchral tombstones are the testimonies collected in the Museum of Roman civilization datable between the first and second centuries AD.

5.Greek collection

In this collection stands out the head of the Athena Lemnia, a marble copy dating back to the time of ancient Greece. To be admired are the ancient and modern gems of Magno-Greek goldsmith manufacture and the collection of Greek ceramics.

6.Etruscan-italic collection

This collection contains the Buccheri, the Etruscan mirrors in relief with engravings and Etruscan urns in marble and terracotta, found in central Italy.

7.Roman collection

Early Christian ivories decorated with sacred and profane motifs, statues, portraits, household tools, pottery and even documents of the activities of the Roman workshops distinguish this collection dating back to the fifth century AD.

8.Egyptian collection

The more than 3,500 objects consisting mostly of sarcophagi and stelae make this collection among the most important in Europe dedicated to Egypt, from the ancient Kingdom to the Ptolemaic era.

9.Numismatic collection

Here is a section dedicated to fans of numismatics: about 100,000 coins and medals, especially of the Roman republican and imperial ages, coins of the Italian State Mint and papal medals make this collection particularly significant.


This collection collects plaster copies of the most famous sculptures both Greek and Roman.

History of the Archaeological Civic Museum

The museum was officially inaugurated on September 25, 1881 following the merger of 2 historic museums, the University in 1714 and the Municipal in 1860.

In it converged, therefore, all the finds of the Academy of Sciences, the collection of the anchors of the painter Pelagio Palagi and the numerous findings from the excavations of the area conducted in that period.

Since 2011 it has been part of the Bologna Musei Institution, the body that makes its collections available to make known the history of the Bologna area. Since 1972, in 50 years the museum has hosted over 150 archaeological and artistic exhibitions.

Galvani Palace

The fifteenth-century Palazzo Galvani is the place that has permanently housed the Civic Archaeological Museum of Bologna for more than a century.

It was built in 1336 and in 1347 it became the seat of the Hospital of Santa Maria della Morte with its homonymous confraternity. Of the original structure now remain only some octagonal pillars of the cloister and some parts of the loggia, given that over the decades it was subject to numerous renovations and expansion.

Among the most significant were those carried out in 1565 by the Bolognese architect Antonio Morandi (whose stage name was Terribilia) who built the imposing Portico della Morte and the construction of the vault in 1861 that still connects the building to the adjacent palace of the Archiginnasio. Exactly 20 years later, in 1881 it was adapted to become the seat of the Archaeological Civic Museum, whose entrance is at the point where once stood the Church of Santa Maria della Morte.

Continue to discover the city!

If you love to walk corridors full of historical and cultural heritage you should definitely know which are the best museums in Bologna!

If you prefer to bring to light the mysteries that are hidden in the medieval streets do not miss our journey to discover the 7 secrets or visit the ancient market of the Quadrilatero.

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This article was written by:
Camilla Viviani
With a keen passion for food, art, and history, I’m always eager to uncover Bologna’s hidden gems and indulge in its cultural offerings, never passing up a chance to explore its myriad museums. As an enthusiastic cartographer and meticulous planner, I thrive on crafting uncommune travel itineraries that promise to delight travelers, offering unique experiences that leave lasting memories.
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