National Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions


in short

The only national state museum with scientific experience in ethno-anthropological subjects, the Museo Nazionale delle Arti e Tradizioni Popolari is the major point of reference for research and documentation of Italian cultural traditions.
Museo Nazionale delle Arti e Tradizioni Popolari, Rome.
Logo: National Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions

National Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions

in detail

The museum opened on 20 April 1956, but its origins date back to 1906, when the Museo di Etnografia Italiana was founded by ethnographer Lamberto Loria and archaeologist Aldobrandino Mochi in Florence.

Loria regarded the museum in Florence as only a tiny part of a larger cultural and intellectual project which aimed at exploring the diversity of customs, traditional practices, religious and magical rituals, and their unique expression in each region and in each historical period. In 1911 Loria organised an exhibition to be held in Rome.

When the 1911 exhibition ended, the collection needed a home. On 10 September 1923 the Regio Museo di Etnografia Italiana was formally set up in the Villa d'Este at Tivoli, but this did not lead to a definitive home for the material. In 1939 the ethnographic collection aroused interest once again, when the exhibition of Popular Traditions was included, among other displays, in the E42 programme – the Universal Exposition that was to celebrate twenty years of Fascism in Rome within the monumental framework of the new EUR (Esposizione Universale Romana) district. The area had been planned to house the Exposition and, at the same time, constitute the beginning of the city's expansion towards the sea by creating a new urban district.

The building for which the exhibition was destined, and which then became the home of the museum, delimits the eastern side of piazza Imperiale, today piazza Marconi. The project was designed by the architects Castellazzi, Morresi and Vitellozzi, while the exterior decoration is the work of Enrico Prampolini who finished the large mosaic 'The Corporations' in 1941. The interior decoration was assigned to the artists Amato, Barillà, Barrera, Bertoletti, Cascella, Cavalli, Colao, Gambetta, Guberti and Varagnolo who, from 1940 to 1942, executed in the main hall a series of frescoes inspired by subjects drawn from traditional Italian life, some of which remained uncompleted. Amerigo Tot carried out the bas-relief 'Typical Elements of Folklore' which surrounds the entrance to the main hall. In 1942 work was suspended. The buildings planned as part of the E42 urban project remained mostly unfinished and all thoughts of exhibitions vanished due to the war.

In 1953 a Folklore exhibition was held at the Palazzo dei Congressi. When the exhibition ended, all the exhibits were transferred to their permanent home where, under Paolo Toschi's direction, the newly-named Museo Nazionale delle Arti e Tradizioni Popolari was set up. The fortieth anniversary of the museum was celebrated in 1996, and a new layout was devised, offering the public a more complete view of the various subjects and added demo-anthropological focus.
Building of Popular Traditions
The Building of Popular Traditiona was based on the plan of the architects Castellazzi, Morresi and Vitellozzi. It was finished in 1942, and destined to be pavillon for the exhibition of Ethnography during the Universal Exposition in Rome (E42). A vast mosaic created by Enrico Prampolini on the back side of the building represents the theme of the guilds. Note worth features inside the building include the entrance hall, the monumental staircase, the Hall of columns and the Hall of honors proceed by a marble portal decorated with a bas-relief showing typical folkloristic elements. Realizad by Amerigo Tot in 1941, the portal illustrates a sequence of images dedicated to handcrafts, to family life and the agricultural life. On the entrance wall and on the back wall of the hall, ten frescos divided in five frames on each wall were to be realized. These have been realized only partially due to the proceeding Second World War. According to the plan designed by cipriano Efisio Oppo, a leading personality in the field of arts during Italian Fascism, and President of the Commission for the planned Exposition of Popular Traditions, the themes the painters had to follow were related to traditions, customs, belief, events and critical aspects of the Italian folk traditions. Each fresco was commissioned to a painter selected based on an open competition privileging experienced artists of distincion.
4,00 / 2,00 EUR
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Visitor entrance

Building of Popular Traditions
Piazza Marconi, 8/10
00144 Rome
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Opening Times

08:30 - 19:30
08:30 - 19:30
08:30 - 19:30
08:30 - 19:30
08:30 - 19:30
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