The Museum History

Foundation and development of the world’s oldest Egyptian museum.

Discover the Museum’s development

The Museo Egizio is world’s the oldest museum devoted entirely to ancient Egyptian culture. Discover the fundamental stages of its formation, from the creation of the collection to the present.
Roman Period
New Kingdom
New Kingdom

The history of the Palazzo di Via Accademia delle Scienze

The birth of the building

When it was founded (1824), the Museo Egizio was housed in the building called the Collegio dei Nobili, built to a design by Michelangelo Garove from 1679 on. It was used to exhibit the first antiquities in the Drovetti collection, purchased by King Carlo Felice. Following alterations by Giuseppe Maria Talucchi and Alessandro Mazzucchetti, the building was enlarged and adapted to its new use in the second half of the 19th century. Already in 1832, however, the Museum was opened to the public.

The Royal Museum of Antiquities and Egyptian Relics and the Academy of Sciences

In addition to Egyptian antiquities, there were other relics: Roman, pre-Roman and prehistoric, together with a natural history section. The building was (and still is) shared with the Academy of Sciences. The Gallery of the Kings, or Statuary Gallery, was moved to the present premises, after first being laid out on the opposite side of the building. During the 19th century the Royal Museum of Antiquities and Egyptian Relics also acquired some minor collections, from private collectors or through exchanges with other museums.


Between 1903 and 1937, the archaeological excavations conducted in Egypt by Ernesto Schiaparelli and then by Giulio Farina brought some 30,000 artefacts to Turin. The Museum underwent a first reorganisation of the rooms in 1908, and a second, more important one, in 1924, with the official visit by the king. In this respect, to compensate it for the lack of space, Schiaparelli restructured the new wing of the Museum, then called the “Schiaparelli wing”, where he exhibited finds from Assiut and Gebelein.

The temple of Ellesiya

Further renovations and alterations took place in the 1930s (installation of the Art Gallery) and in the late 1980s (new layout of the Schiaparelli Wing). Particularly important was the reconstruction of the rock temple from Ellesiya, donated by the Egyptian government in recognition of Italy’s aid in rescuing the Nubian temples threatened by the waters of the Aswan dam. It was cut into 66 blocks, brought to Turin and inaugurated on 4 September 1970.

Installation of the Museum from the 1980s

Starting from the 1980s, partly as a result of increasing numbers of visitors, it became necessary to plan a new itinerary for visitors that led to the installation of new exhibition spaces. In particular, the reclamation and masonry underpinning of the Schiaparelli Wing created extensive underground spaces devoted to the archaeological activities at Assiut, Qau el-Kebir and Gebelein. On the ground floor, a large room was recovered to house antiquities from the Predynastic Period and Old Kingdom.

Winter Olympics

When the Winter Olympics were held in Turin in 2006, the statuary was rearranged by the set designer Dante Ferretti.


The last intervention radically refurbished the spaces, the whole museum itinerary (divided into five exhibition floors) and exhibition facilities with a view to the great reopening in 2015.

The history of the Silvio Curto Library

The original core

The original core of the Library was founded together with the Museo Egizio in 1824. The first acquisitions included works of great value such as the Description de l'Égypte, Ippolito Rosellini’s I Monumenti dell’Egitto e della Nubia, Richard Lepsius’s Denkmäler aus Ägypten und Äthiopien. Until the 1950s, additions to its holdings were sporadic.

After World War II

It was only when the collections were returned to the premises after World War II (after being moved out for safety) that the need was realised for a systematic policy of acquisitions to adapt the Library to the progress being made by Egyptology in those years. But the funds available at that time were insufficient to enlarge it as required.


Its growth was based largely on donations of publications by scholars visiting the Museum. They included the first 33 volumes of the Journal of Egyptian Archaeology presented by Sir Alan Gardiner and the series of the Chronique d'Égypte presented by the Fondation Égyptologique Reine Elisabeth through the intercession of Arpag Mekhitarian. Another way to try to increase the library's holdings was on the antiquarian market, where volumes from libraries closed or dispersed after the war were available at affordable prices.

The rescue of the Nubian Temples

In 1964, following the participation of the Museo Egizio in the campaign to rescue of the Nubian temples, there was an increase in funds allocated by the Ministry of Education to purchase books. This enabled systematic acquisitions of the main serials and the most important periodicals in the field. The Library eventually became a point of reference for scholars from around the world.

The Sixties and the Seventies

In 1968 Giuseppe Botti, Egyptologist and Demotist, left his rich and precious library to the Museum.
In 1977 and 1978 Celeste Rinaldi and Vito Maragioglio also donated their personal libraries.

The last few years

In the 2000s the Library suffered a further decline in acquisitions, but in recent years, purchases and gifts have seen a considerable increase.


The exhibition rooms and the control systems

Currently, the Museum preserves a collection of about 40,000 exhibits; 3,300 objects are exhibited in the museum rooms and about 12,000 in the Material Culture Galleries. The exhibits are located in a visitable space of 12,000 sq. meters, laid out on 4 floors. The rooms are currently equipped with a sophisticated hygrothermal control system. The system is powered by the combined geothermal-burner plant, the system uses three heat pumps that distribute fluids to 14 air treatment units, fan coil units and radiant panels, all interconnected and remotely managed by a control programme supported by feedback from sensors set in the rooms.

Technology and emission reduction

Synergic use of these devices ensures continuous calibration of the temperature-humidity parameters necessary for optimum preservation of the finds and environmental comfort for visitors. The best settings of the system are studied to limit consumption and reduce environmental emissions.

Security 24/7

The museum also has several supplementary monitoring systems to control public flows, access and surveillance 24/7, to ensure the highest possible security levels and manage criticalities or overloads.