Museo delle Civiltà
Museo Nazionale Preistorico Etnografico "Luigi Pigorini"
The Palethnological collections
The first group of materials was collected through a circular (No. 458 of November 8, 1875) of Giuseppe Fiorelli, at that time the Director General of Monuments and Excavations at the Ministry of Education, which called upon all of the Inspectors of Excavations and Monuments in the Kingdom to assist with the establishment of the new National Museum of Prehistory in Rome (inaugurated on March 14, 1876) and to submit selections of the most significant "prehistoric relics" found in their regions to Rome.
Over the years the Museum acquired yet more of the Italian collections, including: the collections of Concezio Rosa (Vibrata Valley) and of the Baron Klitsche de la Grange (Tolfa mountains), the prehistoric material which was preserved in the Kircher Museum, the collections of R. Lanciani (Veii), M. S. de Rossi (various locations in the tomb of Viterbo and Sgurgola), the “fibula praenestina”, the collection of L. Nardoni (archaic tombs and votive offerings discovered in Rome), material found in terramare of the province of Modena and from the Neolithic complex in Alba (Piedmont) and remains from the Cava Pertosa (Salerno).
Later acquisitions included: materials from the Upper Paleolithic found on the terraces overlooking the Aniene river, i paleosuoli scavati in via Boccea, l'industria pontiniana su ciottolo del Paleolitico medio e superiore, delle grotte del Circeo: Breuil, delle Capre e Guattari e dal riparo Blanc, Upper Paleolithic stone tools from the Polesini cave (Ponte Lucano, Tivoli), il grande ripostiglio di Ardea, the materials from Grotta Misa, the Tivoli graves, the villanovian grave goods from Tarquinia, the extraordinary context della cultura campaniforme of Fosso Conicchio, the Eneolithic grave "of the widow " from the necropolis of Ponte S. Pietro, the Cavallo Morto necropolis of Anzio (and acquisition that took place after the death of Luigi Pigorini, in 1925). In 1962, the Museum's famous Neanderthal skull (found in the Guattari cave on Monte Circeo in 1939) was featured in the exhibition of the Prehistory of Lazio.
In the 1990s the collection was enhanced with the acquisition of Neolithic and Bronze Age material from the from the La Marmotta village submerged beneath the waters of Lake Bracciano and the site of U.S. Navy station Gricignano di Aversa.
The Ethnographic collection
The first group of objects, collected between 1635 and 1680 by the Jesuit Father Athanasius Kircher, came from items collected by the missions of the Capuchins in the Congo and Angola and those of the Jesuits in China, Brazil and Canada and were then kept in the Kircher Museum. To this core of objects Pigorini added a number of "exotic curiosities" which had flooded into Europe after the discovery of America and had previously been components of the major collections of 18th century Italy.
These collections were enriched by pieces from travellers and explorers returning from the four corners of the world between the end of the 1800’s and the first decades of the 1900’s.
From Africa come the collections made by Italian officers in the service of the Congo Free State, the collection of the Ethiopian-Italian Geographic Society and the collections of Romolo Gessi, Giovanni Miani, Vittorio Bottego, Ruspoli, Giuseppe Candeo, Luigi Robecchi Bricchetti and two rare collections of African objects.
From America come the Amazonian collections of Father Coppi and material from Chaco and Tierra del Fuego, the painter and traveller Guido Boggiani, ceramics from pre-Columbus Mexico, Mesoamerica and Peru and materials from the Inuits and the North West and the Plains Native Americans.
From Asia come collections of materials which predate the period of "modernization": the Vincenzo Ragusa collection (Japan), the G. Ros collection (China, donated in 1924), the Raja Sourindro Mohun Tagore collection (India, presented as a gift to King Vittorio Emanuele II), pieces from Tibet, Fea's collection (Burma, acquired in 1889) and a dozen collections (Indonesia) dating to between 1865 and 1910.
From Oceania come Hawaiian objects from the 3rd voyage of James Cook and the 19th century collections of Lamberto Loria, Luigi M. d'Albertis and Otto Finsch (New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago and the Solomon Islands).