The Museo Archeologico Nazionale premises are hosted inside the San Domenico former Convent, located along Corso Cavour, just outside the Etruscan walls of Perugia. Since 1948 the Museum has occupied the area of the Dominican Convent complex, built over an earlier 13th century church that stood where the main cloister is today, which in the course of the centuries has been enlarged up to the point of assuming its current aspect. With the occupation of the Napoleonic troops and the Italian process of unification, the complex was transformed to host military barracks, changing dramatically the original design: the cavalry was housed in the cloister, the stables were placed in the oratory and the old church was transformed into a refectory on two levels. At the end of the Second World War the complex was occupied by the German militias, then by the Allied troops and at the end by the refugees. Since 1945, having been handed over to the Municipality, it has become a place of culture by hosting the State Archives and the Civic Museums
. Apart from admiring the architectural complex of San Domenico, whose cloister—one among the largest and outstanding in town—allows the view of the church’s imposing tower bell, the visit to the Archaeological Museum represents a precious opportunity to be acquainted with the collections of Etruscan finds, which are among the richest of Italy, gathered above all in the course of the 19th century excavations in the necropolises of Perugia’s territory. Next to the most ancient finds, the visitors can appreciate the numerous materials coming from the excavations that followed the birth of the Superintendence of the Archaeological Heritage (1964) that are presented to the public as per the most modern exhibition criteria. Furthermore, a consistent amount of pre-historical finds completes the display path. The Museum hosts the pre-historical and Etruscan-Roman collections, which were gathered starting from the 19th century by the illustrious scholars who as curators took over the responsibility of managing and preserving the archaeological heritage of the town, which at the time was an important center for Etruscan archaeological studies. The central nucleus of the exhibition mostly contains material coming from the territory and the excavations in the necropolises of Perugia, which can be dated from the Archaic and the Hellenistic Ages, like the Cai Cutu Sarcophagus in Sperandio and the exceptional complex of archaic bronze coming from Castel San Mariano, not counting the Cutu hypogeum reconstructed—as per the original arrangement—in a separate section located in the basement. Both levels of the Loggia in the cloister display the Etruscan-Roman Lapidarium composed of many cinerary urns, funerary “cippus”—i.e. memorial stones—and marble slabs with Latin inscriptions. Pre-proto-historical material from diverse contexts in central Italy—Umbria, Tuscany, Marche and The Abruzzi—along with the Bellucci Collection and the finds from the settlement of the Tuscan village of Cetona are placed in the upper floor. In the large “Hall of the Bronzes”, which has hosted for almost half a century the rich collections of proto-historical items that belonged to Giuseppe Bellucci and Umberto Calzoni, a new section has been arranged following the most recent museum criteria. This section illustrates the dynamics of the development of the Umbrian and Etruscan civilizations, the former settled on the left riverbank of the Tiber, while the latter on the right side, and figuratively the central corridor represents the river.