Salinas Archaeological Museum

Salinas Archaeological Museum
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The Salinas Archaeological Museum in Palermo houses one of the most impressive archaeological collections in Italy. It manages to tell virtually the entire history of Sicily from prehistory to the Middle Ages. There are Neolithic and Copper Age artefacts, mosaics from Solunto, Palermo and Marsala and important Phoenician, Greek and Roman remains. Must-sees include the Metopes from the Temples of Selinunte, the ‘Palermo Stone’ and a fragment of the Parthenon frieze.

History of the Salinas Archaeological Museum

The Salinas Archaeological Museum in Palermo is housed in the 16th-century Convento dei Padri Filippini. In 1866, the new Kingdom of Italy acquired this structure as a result of the suppression of religious congregations and confiscation of their property. The original collection consisted of artefacts from the Jesuit, Benedictine and University of Palermo museums. From 1823 onwards, artefacts recovered during excavations at Selinunte, Solunto and Tindari, as well as numerous donations from the Bourbon kings and other purchased artefacts were added. Amongst the various collections that have come together in the Salinas Museum over the years, there is the collection of the English consul, Robert Fagan, which included a fragment of the Parthenon frieze from Athens. Another important collection is the Astuto collection, which contains archaeological finds originating mainly from the Roman antiquities market. Also noteworthy is the Conti Casuccini da Chiusi Etruscan Collection. During the 1950s, the medieval and modern collections were transferred to the Museo Regionale di Palazzo Abatellis. The Salinas Museum thereby became exclusively archaeological.

Ground floor: Selinunte Metopes and the Palermo Stone

The Salinas Archaeological Museum’s exhibition route starts on the ground floor and is organised around two cloisters. In the Main Cloister and the cells, which open along its portico, are exhibits from excavations at Tindari, Termini Imerese, Halaesa, Taormina, Centuripe, Randazzo and Agrigento. One of the most interesting things about this first part of the Salinas Museum is the Epigraph Room, with important Greek and Latin inscriptions. The large hall housing the famous metopes from the Selinunte Temples and the ‘Palermo Stone’ is also very beautiful.

Interesting fact: The ‘Palermo Stone’ is a set of black diorite fragments with inscriptions on both sides. It contains the chronicles of some 700 years of Egyptian life in various ancient languages and the annals of the first five dynasties (3100–⁠2300 BC).

When the museum reopened in 2018, a new exhibition space was inaugurated. A third courtyard was transformed into a kind of agora by adding a glass and steel roof. Here, there are the 17 lion eaves from Himera and the large gorgoneion that decorated the pediment of Temple C in Selinunte.

First floor: Casuccini Etruscan Collection, Medagliere and Bronze Ram

On the first floor of the Salinas Archaeological Museum are exhibits from different collections: the Casuccini Etruscan Collection, the Astuto Collection, the San Martino Museum Collection and the Salnitrian Museum Collection. One of the most important of these is the Casuccini Collection, considered the most important Etruscan collection outside of Tuscany. It includes, amongst other things, sarcophagi, urns and Attic pottery with red and black figures. In the Greek and Roman sculpture halls, the statue of Heracles killing a doe and the bronze Aries, originally located in Castello Maniace in Syracuse, are worthy of attention. There is also a section devoted entirely to jewellery and the extensive numismatic collections of the Medagliere.

Second floor: Prehistory, Phoenicians and Underwater Collection

The visit to the Salinas Archaeological Museum ends on the second floor, which is entirely dedicated to the exhibition of finds from archaeological excavations in central-western Sicily. It is, therefore, possible to retrace the entire history of Sicily, from the earliest prehistoric and protohistoric periods to Phoenician colonisation, and from the Roman and Byzantine periods to the Middle Ages. In the loggia, which is now enclosed by a modern glass wall, is the underwater section with a selection of anchors and transport amphorae.

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