Department of Etrusco-Italic Antiquities
Department of Etrusco-Italic Antiquities

Department of Etrusco-Italic Antiquities

The Department is responsible for the Etruscan and Italic antiquities displayed in the Gregorian Etruscan Museum, including the sectors known as the Collection of Vases and the Antiquarium Romanum, and those stored in the deposits. There are about 15,000 inventoried works, of which almost 4,000 are presented on display.
The Museum, commissioned by Pope Gregory XVI from whom it takes its name, was inaugurated on 2 February 1837. It was the first museum specifically dedicated to Etruscan antiquities after the foundation in the eighteenth century of the Etruscan Academy of Cortona and the Guarnacci Museum of Volterra.

Its opening was the culmination of an exciting season of excavations and discoveries that in previous years had involved the areas of some of the most important cities of ancient Etruria, then included in the territory of the Papal States, in particular Vulci, Cerveteri and Tarquinia.
The Museum also brought together works already present in the Vatican since the eighteenth century, and at times the result of more ancient collection. Since its foundation it has occupied the reception apartment of Tor dei Venti, on the first floor of the building initiated by Michelangelo and Girolamo da Carpi in 1550 for Julius III and completed in 1564 by Pirro Ligorio under Pius IV, with the majestic view of the Niche overlooking the Courtyard of the Pinecone, used by the Popes between the second half of the sixteenth and the first half of the seventeenth century. The last illustrious tenant was Cardinal Francesco Saverio de Zelada (1717-1801), who lived there from around 1780 to 1798, as Librarian and then Secretary of State to Pius VI (Giovanni Angelo Braschi, 1775-1799).
With the end of the Papal States (1870) and, consequently of their territorial competences, the Museum saw only sporadic growth, albeit of notable importance, such as the purchase of the Falcioni Collection in 1898, the donation of Benedetto Guglielmi to Pius XI in 1935, the donation of Mario Astarita to Paul VI in 1967, and the purchase of the Giacinto Guglielmi collection in 1987.

During the twentieth century, with a total of four renovations, the area covered by the Museum was almost trebled, from the original 7 rooms to the current 22, for a total of more than 2000 square metres, also using the wing erected during the time of Pius VI and the fifteenth-century Palazzetto of Innocent VIII.
From 1900 the Museum was entrusted to the care of a specialist archaeologist. Bartolomeo Nogara, pioneer of Etruscology, was followed by: Filippo Magi, Francesco Roncalli di Montorio, Francesco Buranelli, and Maurizio Sannibale, the current curator.
A large and constantly increasing number of scientific publications illustrate the various sectors of the collection, with studies of a monographic nature.