Sicily boasts a long list of worth-visiting museums and galleries.
The Regional Archaeological Museum in
Syracuse, founded in 1878, is dedicated to the archaeologist Paolo Orsi, from
Rovereto, who pioneered in the excavation and research
sites and run the museum for over thirty years. The display is arranged on two floors. The A Section, devoted to Pre- and Proto-History, displays relics from the Stentinello site, going back to the Neolithic and the Bronze ages. The B section gathers relics dating from the Greek age, notably from doric colonies of Megara Hyblaea and Syracuse, and others from Gela and Agrigento.
The Archaeological Museum in Giardini Naxos – Messina province – exhibits items from different epochs: Neolithic, Bronze, Iron, Greek, Byzantine. There stands an incredible collection of amphoras, vases, helmets, coins, attesting to the importance of this city in the past.
The Archaeological Museum in Enna, housed inside the Palazzo Varisano, collects, in five display rooms, finds from several excavations: the first and the second are devoted to finds from excavations in the Enna area; the third illustrates the history of the Pergusa Lake area; the fourth is about the 7th-6th century BC Greek settlement of Rossomanno; the fifth contains funeral outfits.
The Regional Archaeological Museum in Aidone, Enna, housed in a former Capuchins convent, collects specimens of prehistoric ceramics, of Greek coins and terracotta works and other objects dating from the Roman Republic. The material, entirely coming from the archaeologic site of Morgantina, is displayed in several rooms.
The Badia Archaeological Museum in Licata, Agrigento, is situated inside the Cistercian monastery of S. Maria del Soccorso. A noted collection of archaeologic items provides evidence of human settlements in this area since the Paleolithic.
The Regional Archaeological Museum in Caltanissetta displays finds from excavations conducted at this area that revealed the presence of Dessueri, a city dating from the Bronze age. The collection, ranging from the prehistory to Roman and Byzantine ages, is arranged both chronologically and topographically into five big rooms with plenty of explanatory material.
The Regional Archaeological Museum of Agrigento, located just off the city, consists of a complex of buildings attached to the restored convent of S. Nicola. The history of the most notorious archaeological site in Sicily is traced through thousands of archaeological finds, unearthed during excavations at the area at the beginning of the 20th century. The 470 BC Telamon, reconstructed in the room dedicated to the temple of Zeus Olympion, is the museum’s most attractive item. Displayed in further 18 rooms are an endless number of vases, amphoras, objects, tools, statues, sculptures and many other incredible items ranging in date from the 20th century BC to the 6th century AD.
The Diocesan Archaeological Museum, in Agrigento, is located in the vicinity of the city Cathedral. The Museum conserves many ancient relics, frescoes from the Cathedral, the precious Phoedra’s sarcophagus dating from around the 2nd century AD, and various pieces of jewelry. An authorization by the diocese is required to visit it.
The Regional Archaeological Museum in Palermo is housed in several buildings. The display in Piazza Olivella consists of two floors divided into several rooms, one of which dedicated to temporary exhibitions. It collects relics testifying to Sicilian history from the prehistory up to the 18th and 19th century.
The Sicilian Regional Gallery in Palermo, housed inside the Palazzo Abatellis, gathers a collection of paintings and sculptures ranging from the 12th to the 18th century. Outstanding are a 15th century fresco dedicated to the Triumph of Death, guarded in the Chapel of the palace, a 16th century Malvagna Tryptych depicting the Virgin on a Throne with the Child, a painting by Gossaert known as Mabuse and another, more recent, by Pietro Novelli dating from the first half of the 17th century.
The G. Pitrè Museum of Ethnography, named after the well-known Palermo ethnologist who founded it in the early 1900s, displays, in 29 rooms, a vast collection of artefacts, tools, objects, ceramic and terracotta works, holy wooden statues, puppets and typical carts.
The Municipal Museum in Termini Imerese consists of several sections arranged by subject about Palermo’s Prehistory, Archaeology, Numismatics, Epigraphy. Worth-mentioning are a 15th century low-relief depicting the Holy Family, various paintings and Greek inscriptions.
The Municipal Museum in Terrasini – Palermo province – displays in three sections respectively devoted to Natural History, Archaeology and Ethno-Anthropology.
The Regional Museum of Messina, opened in the early-20th century, holds numerous works of art: sculptures, decorations, holy representations recovered from ruins of churches in the area after the 1908’s earthquake. The garden and the terrace guard statues and other imposing relics from churches and palazzi. A polyptych by Antonello da Messina dated 1473 and a 13th century Madonna and Child by unknown are among the museum’s major pieces.
The Tapestry Museum in Marsala preserves eight precious 16th century Flemish tapestries depicting scenes from the Roman-Jewish war (1st century AD) attributed to the Spanish-Flemish painter Pedro Campana.
The Baglio Anselmi Museum, housed inside the Baglio Anselmi, in Marsala, a former wine factory built in the 19th century, displays a remarkable Punic ship and illustrates the history of Lilybaeum, a small town founded around 307 BC by refugees of the close Motya Island that had been destroyed by the Syracusan Tyrant Dionysius. During the Punic war the city was an outpost of Carthage meant to protect against Roman attacks, who ultimately took it. Panels in the second room illustrate the geographical features of the site, the history of Lilybaeum and its urban structure. Room 3 shows prehistoric material from the areas of Marsala and Mazara del Vallo, from Motya and Lilybaeum. The smaller Room 4 exhibits seven Latin inscriptions that helped shed light on daily life in Lilybaeum.
The Archaeological Museum in Gela, Caltanissetta, illustrates the history of the ancient city and its surroundings. The display collects relics ranging in date from the prehistory to the Middle Ages, arranged in seven chronological sections with explanatory material. Section 1 includes the prehistory, the acropolises, the Emporium, the Boat. Section 2 displays relics of the town between the 4th and the 3rd century BC and from the Santuario di Hera standing where now is the Town Hall. Section 3 is about the kilns and the epigraphy. Section 4 displays amphoras unearthed in Gela. Three sections are devoted to relics from the ancient town and from sanctuaries of Demetra and Kore. A final section displays objects dating from the Prehistoric, Greek and Roman ages.
The Hyblaean Archaeological Museum in Ragusa was founded in the second half of the 20th century. Displayed in chronological and topographical order are items illustrating the archaeology and history of Ragusa area from the Neolithic Age, and places faithfully reconstructed, such as the necropolis, that help visitors better understand the significance of the collection. The A section, about the Prehistory, gathers relics from excavations in Marina di Ragusa’s and Modica’s countryside, ceramics and tools in lavastone unearthed in Cava d’Ispica and Vittoria. The B section is about finds unearthed in the Greek site of Camarina, also including some archaic tombs. The C one is about ancient Sicels’ settlements of Monte Casasia, Licodia Eubea, Castiglione and Ibla.
The D section is about Hellenistic settlements of Scornavacche with photos and topographic maps of this ancient site in the proximity of Chiaramonte Gulfi. The E section is about the late Roman settlement of Kaukana and also displays mosaics of the little church of S. Croce Camerina.
The final F Section includes collections and acquisitions.
The Vagliasindi Archaeological Museum in Randazzo, Catania, houses the archaeological collection of Paolo Vagliasindi (second half of the 19th century) consisting of precious coins, pieces and ceramic works ranging from the 6th to the 3rd century BC.
The Municipal Museum of Caltanissetta has two sections dedicated to modern art and archaeology. The latter, probably richer, gathers material displayed in topographical and chronological order, consisting of prehistoric and greek relics found at several sites of the area such as Sabucina and Capodarso, vases and tools dating from the Bronze Age.
The Archaeological Museum in Marianopoli, Caltanissetta, displays, on two floors, in chronological and topographical order, finds ranging in date from the Prehistory to the Greek age mostly coming from the archaeological sites of Monte Castellazzo and Balate-Valle Oscura.
The Agostino Pepoli Regional Museum in Trapani is housed in a former Carmelite convent dating from the 14th century. Its collection gathers remarkable sculptures and paintings, archaeologic relics and figurative art works. It includes the private collection of Agostino Pepoli, who supported the founding of the museum in the early 20th century, and other material consisting of acquisitions or donations. In two floors is illustrated the development of decorative arts in the area of Trapani between the 13th and the 19th century. Worth-mentioning are some precious works such as the reliquary of a Saint, a wooden sculpture by German unknown, a painting on wood depicting the Enthroned Madonna with Angels by Master of the Trapani Polyptych, a early 1500’s marble statue of St. Jacob the Elder by Antonello Gagini, a painting representing The Martyrdom of St. Matthew from the 17th century.
The Municipal Museum in Castelvetrano – Trapani – gathers the collections once housed in the former monastery of St. Domenic, including pieces found at Selinunte, dating from the 6th to the 4th century BC, paintings and sculptures from desecrated churches of the city, statues, coins, ceramic, terracotta works and many other items.
The Ethnographic Museum in Modica, dedicated to Serafino Amabile Guastella, focuses on the rural activities in the area. On display are traditional carts, objects and tools produced or used by Modican craftmen. Housed in the first floor of the former convent of Mercedari Fathers, it also displays several old shops faithfully recreated, such as the honey-maker’s, the blacksmith’s and an impressing typical Masseria (Sicilian for Farmhouse).
The Municipal Museum in Noto collects outstanding pieces found at Noto Antica and its surroundings.
The Ursino Castle Municipal Museum in Catania, recently restored, displays in 28 rooms (on 2 floors) the collections of the Benedictine Friars, the Princes of Biscari, and those donated by the Baron Zappalà Asmundo, comprising architectural and decorative relics found in the Roman Theatre, in Catania, and many other precious items. The picture-gallery displays works by such illustrious artists as Ribera, Procaccini, Borremans, Luca Giordano, the Beato Angelico, Bernardino Niger and Pietro Novelli.
The Vincenzo Bellini Municipal Museum, inside the artist’s birthhome, illustrates the life and production of the world-known Catanian composer. The first room displays printings of Catania in the 19th century; in the second are items belonged to the artist. Among them is an harpsichord believed to be built by Bellini himself. The third displays pictures of events of his life; another room, maybe the most outstanding, gathers numerous manuscripts autographed by the artist; the last room contains photographs and objects related to the artist’s corpse transfer from Paris to Catania.
The Museo di San Nicolò, in Militello Val di Catania, housed in the basement of the church of St. Nicholas, was opened in 1981. It collects works and relics recovered from the city ruins after the 1693’s earthquake, numerous works of art and documents attesting to the historical and artistic importance of the town. Among them, worth-mentioning are the remains of a 18th century apse and a full set of ceremonial vestments with figured polychrome embroideries, dating from the 18th century.
The Museo di Paleontologia in Catania gathers a noteworthy collection of fossils and historical finds coming from sites across Sicily.
The Municipal Museum of Acicastello, housed inside the Norman Castle, collects numerous items displayed in several sections about mineralogy and paleontology.
The Zelantea Library and Picture Gallery of Acireale, Catania, is among the best equipped in all Sicily, with a section devoted to Archaeology and a Museum of the Italian Risorgimento.
The Archaeological Museum in Adrano, housed inside the 11th century Norman Castle, is largely devoted to Archaeology, with display of stone and bone objects, ceramic and metal items dating back to the Neolithic and Copper Ages. It also includes a picture-gallery showing pictures dating from the 1500s through the early 1900s.
The Museum of the Capuchins, in Caltagirone, housing a picture gallery with plenty of sacred works, collects works by noted authors such as Fra Semplice from Verona and Filippo Paladino.
The city has paid homage to its worldwide famous ceramics by founding the Regional Museum of Ceramics. Its four rooms, inside the Town Villa, display ceramics arranged chronologically from the Prehistory to the early 1900s, produced in Caltagirone and in the rest of Sicily. The prehistoric section includes ceramic finds from excavations at Caltagirone, S. Ippolito and Dessueri, and in the Ragusa area. The section about the Middle Ages show admirable pieces from Syracuse dating back to the 10th-11th centuries, and from Palermo and Agrigento, dating back to the 12th-13th century. The modern section gathers works ranging from the 16th to the 19th century from Caltagirone, Sciacca, Burgio, Palermo and Trapani.
Caltagirone also boasts two Municipal Museums: the Contemporary Art’s and the Luigi Sturzo’s collecting important paintings, ceramics, potteries, drawings and other items.
The Archaeological Museum in Grammichele, housed inside the Municipal Palace, gathers Greek relics recovered from excavations conducted at the town throughout the years. In the first room are panels illustrating the city history. The second is devoted to pre and proto-historic material unearthed in the town’s countryside. The last section displays funeral relics from the necropolises of Terravecchia and Casa Cantoniera.
The Permanent Exhibition in Mirabella Imbaccari offers interesting works by local craftswomen; most outstanding are notably the tombolo embroideries.
The Archaeological Museum of Ramacca, Catania, displays relics ranging in date from the Metal to the Greek-Roman Age. Worth-mentioning are remains of the so-called RM house, abandoned in the 6th century BC, notably the funeral vestments from the East necropolis.
The Archaeological Museum in Lentini displays relics recovered from excavations in the ancient villages of Leontini and Metapiccola, and funeral outfits ranging in date from the 4th to the 2nd century BC.
The Archaeological Park is home to remains of Greek necropolises, walls and buildings.
The Museum of Tindari illustrates the history of this famed site in the province of Messina. Although smaller, this boasts as much precious items as any other museum listed here. Outstanding are a sculpted Emperor Augustus’ head, recovered from excavations at the Basilica, and relics attesting to a settlement dating back to the Bronze Age. Also noteworthy are the documents about the excavations and restorations here conducted.
The Aeolian Regional Archaeological Museum in Lipari, holds various collections that illustrate the history of the archipelago from the Prehistory to the Middle Ages. It is arranged in six buildings located in the Castle area, each one dedicated to different historical ages and to specifical subjects, among which are volcanology and marine archaeology. The latter contains relics from ancient shipwrecks found off the islands, including 4th century amphoras in Greek-Italic style.
Explanatory material is also available.
The Archaeologic Park in Lipari traces the history of the Island through the excavations there conducted. It offers remains of walls from the Greek period, of Roman houses and remains of necropolises.
The Archaeological Museum on Mozia, a well-known island off Trapani coast, allows visitors to admire specimens of Phoenician funerary vestments recovered from the necropolis, masks and other interesting items.
The Museum of Cesarò, Messina province, displaying farm tools, objects and photographs of old times, allows visitors a journey through old activities and experience Sicily’s rural life in the 19th century.
Within the Cava d’Ispica, a noted archeological site in the vicinity of Modica – Ragusa province – the Water Mill-Museum Cavallo d’Ispica was recently re-opened to public after restoration. This displaying working tools, objects and furniture of the past times, allows visitors to experience a unique atmosphere.
In Palazzolo Acreide, Syracuse, there is the House-Museum of poet and anthropologist Antonino Uccello. Presently run by the Regione Sicilia, it collects traditional objects, tools and costumes. Also noteworthy is the re-created part of a farmhouse.