The neoclassical villa which houses the museum was built around 1830 by the Baron Frigerj. It then passed to the commune of Chieti and later into the ownership of the Italian state. The villa became the domicile of the archaeological museum in 1959, through the efforts of the superintendent V. Cianfarani. Major restoration work began in 1984.
The collection is arranged in the following categories:
- Funeral cults of the Abruzzi
- Italian sculpture
- Anthropological room
- Pansa collection
- Numismatic Collection
- Roman Iconography in the Abruzzi
Funeral cults of the Abruzzi
This room contains funeral gifts found in some of the most significant pre-Roman necropolises of the Abruzzi, dating from the 9th to 4th centuries BC. In addition to cooking, eating and drinking vessels, these normally included arms and military equipment, as well as jewellery and personal adornments characteristic of male and female burials. The abundance and intrinsic value of the objects provides archaeological evidence of the social status of those who had died, while also revealing cultural and ancient trading practices of Mediterranean and continental populations.
Items of Italian sculpture are shown in Room 2. The collection includes two outstanding statues, male and female, from Capestrano, in procession. Figures from Collelongo, Rapino, Atessa, Loreto Aprutino, and Guardiagrele belong to the same cultural context.Three funeral statues with paleosabellic inscription from Penna S. Andrea are shown in Room 1. This collection is of considerable importance for both the history of art and the political-institutional history of the Abruzzi.
The approach in the Anthropological room is focused on scientific investigation rather than artistic display. Specific physical and biochemical tests on human remains allow us to determine sex, age at time of death, state of health and eating habits, fertility, amongst other things.
This collection reflects the first owner's tastes, interests and his personality generally. Pansa, a 19th-20th century lawyer and scholar from Sulmona, was much at ease in the cultural world of his time, and his collection covers several specialities: figured bronze, jewels, glasses, ivory, and refined objects of utility. (Only part of this collection is on permanent display.)
A sample of about 15,000 coins of the National Archaeological Museum Numismatic Collection is shown in this section. The coins range from 4th century BC to the 19th century.
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