Stone collection in the archaeological museum in Palermo

Palermo Museum - these are the top 10 museums

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Palermo, the capital of Sicily, fascinates with its history, magnificent monuments and a considerable number of museums and galleries that attract many visitors and art enthusiasts with their exhibitions. With this article, we would like to give you an overview of Palermo's museums so that you can immerse yourself specifically in the world of art during your next visit.

This is what you can expect in this article:

  1. Regional Archaeological Museum "Antonino Salinas".

  2. Regional Gallery of Sicily in Palazzo Abatellis 

  3. Diocesan Museum of Palermo (Diözesanmuseum)

  4. Museum of Majolica - Genius Rooms

  5. International Museum of Puppets (Internationales Marionettenmuseum)

  6. GAM - Palermo Gallery of Modern Art (Galerie für moderne Kunst)

  7. Branciforte Palace

  8. Villa Zito

  9. Museum of Geological Palaeontology G.G. Gemmellaro

  10. Museum of Zoology P.Doderlein

  11. Stadtkarte mit den vorgestellten Museen

  12. Palermo Museum - Pure Art and Culture

Ciao, I am Adriana.

I'm a host at BnB Dolcevita and I hope you like my article about the museums. It is part of our Palermo travel guide.  More about us

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#1 Antonino Salinas Regional Archaeological Museum

A comprehensive and important collection of Greek and Punic art is home to the Antonino Salinas Regional Archaeological Museum. Here we can gain a deep insight into the history of Sicily, as the exhibition rooms reveal objects dating back many thousands of years - from prehistory to the Middle Ages. 

The museum is located near the Teatro Massimo theatre in a restored former convent of the Congregation of St Philip Neri. Spread over three floors and two courtyards with arcaded walkways, Greek bronze figures such as the bronze statue of Hercules, prehistoric finds such as fascinating cave paintings from the Monte Pellegrino grotto, details of Greek temples, Roman sarcophagi and the famous Palermo stone inspire visitors. 

The archaeologist Antonino Salinas (1841-1914) put a lot of effort into expanding the exhibition, which was initially based on the collection of the Museo dell'Università founded in 1814. The museum now bears his epithet in his honour. 

 

Over the years, the collection has expanded through donations, private collections and systematic excavations. In addition to the extensive art treasures, the museum also houses valuable books, a collection of historical engravings and a specialised archaeological library.

In addition to the collection, which is well worth seeing, the beautiful ambience speaks for itself: exotic trees and fountains in stylish courtyards that invite you to take a little cultural break.

Fountain in the courtyard of the Antonino Salinas Museum 

Fountain in the courtyard of the Antonino Salinas Museum 

Photo: ​ICarollo77Atrio minore del Museo Salinas, Detail from RM, CC BY-SA 4.0

Opening Hours & Admission Fees

Admission prices: 6 EUR

Mon closed, Tue-Sat 9am-6pm

Sun & Holidays 9-13.30 (last admission 30 minutes before closing)

#2 Regional Gallery of Sicily im Palazzo Abatellis 

One of the most impressive paintings in the world adorns the walls of the Palazzo Abatellis in the old town: the Mary of the Annunciation (Annunziata di Palermo) by old master Antonello da Messina. The painting from the early Renaissance was created at the peak of the Sicilian painter's creative period between 1474-1476. The small-format painting documents the Annunciation scene with a maximum of emotion, which makes the work unsurpassed.

It is one of the most valuable exhibits in the Galleria Regionale della Sicilia in Palermo, which is housed in the plain palace of Matteo Carnelivari.

The museum is the largest of all art museums in Sicily and focuses on paintings and sculptures by Sicilian artists from the Middle Ages to modern times. The Venetian architect Carlo Scarpa, who implemented the artistic design of the interior, created a remarkable ambience for the presentation of special works of art. The German architect and Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius praised his work as "the best museum setting he had ever seen.

Opening Hours & Admission Fees 

Admission: 8 EUR, reduced 4 EUR

Closed Mon, Tue-Sat 9am-6.30pm,

Sun. 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. (last admission 30 min. before closing) 

#3 Diocesan Museum of Palermo (Diözesanmuseum)

For fans of sacred art, a visit to the Museo Diocesano di Palermo is a must. The archbishop's Palazzo Arcivescovile opposite the cathedral houses an impressive art exhibition inside with over 200 works from the 15th to the 19th century. Most of the sacred works of art come from the cathedral before its renovation and remodelling in the neoclassical style in 1781.

Exhibits from destroyed and bombed churches are also displayed here. 
Paintings, sculptures and decorative arts provide a comprehensive overview of the art of sacred buildings through a chronologically structured tour.  

 

Great artists such as Antonello Gagini and his son Vincenzo Gaggini, who dominated the art world of Sicily in the 16th century, are represented in this museum. Works by Pietro Novelli and his school as well as the famous chapel with frescoes, impressive wall paintings, by the Flemish painter Guglielmo Borremans around 1733 can also be admired here. 

View of the Diocesan Museum in Palermo

Here on the left side opposite the cathedral is the Diocesan Museum

Photo: © Robin Marx - BnB Dolcevita 

Opening Hours & Admission Fees 

Entrance fees: €4.50 (adults); reduced €3 (children and young people aged 6-17, over 60s, groups of at least 4 people); reduced €2 (school groups and groups of at least 15 people); collective ticket for cathedral and museum €5.00
Free (children up to 6 years, priests and religious, deacons and seminarians, journalists, tourist guides).
You can hire an audio guide in Italian, English, French or German for € 3. 

Mon closed, Tue - Fri 9.30 - 13.30,

Saturdays 10 a.m.-6 p.m. , Sundays and public holidays 9.30 a.m.-1.30 p.m.; last entry is half an hour before closing.

#4 Majolica Museum - Genius Rooms

Our selection on the subject of the Palermo Museum also includes this special specimen, which is based on the commitment of the museum's owner. In the heart of Palermo, the private collection of Sicilian and Neapolitan mosaics from several centuries attracts art enthusiasts.

The ceramic art of majolica is deeply rooted in Sicily. The Museo delle Maioliche specialises in handmade tiles. Exhibits from the 16th to the 20th century adorn the walls of the private house Palazzo Torre Piraino. In seven rooms, art lovers and tourists can get a comprehensive overview of the ancient craft. Reservations are essential for this museum visit with private flair. 

Mosaics on the walls of the Museo delle Maioliche

Photo: © Museo delle Maioliche / www.stanzealgenio.it/la-casa-museo/

Opening Hours & Admission Fees 

Price: 9 EUR, reduced 8 EUR

Mon closed, Tue - Fri 3pm (English), 4pm (Italian).

Sat 10am-11am (English/Italian), Sun 11am (English/Italian)
Duration of the guided tour: 45 min

#5 Museo internazionale delle marionette (International Marionette Museum)

A very special place is the Museo internazionale delle marionette Antonio Pasqualino, located in the Kalsa district. The cultural-historical museum lets us look behind the scenes of puppet theatre culture. In the 19th century, puppet theatre in Sicily became a celebrated street art. Meanwhile, the Sicilian puppet theatre, opera die pupi, has been declared Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. 

The fascinating collection of the surgeon and clinic director Antonia Pasqualino extends over three floors. It includes over 3500 Sicilian and international marionettes, a book and video library and a theatre with special performances. 

Sicilian Puppets at the Marionette Museum

Photo: © wiesdie / Shutterstock.com 

Opening Hours & Admission Fees 

Admission prices: 5 EUR

Sun&Mun 10am - 2pm ,

Tue-Sat 10am-6pm 

#6 GAM - Galleria dÀrte Moderna di Palermo (Modern Art Gallery)

For lovers of the Belle Époque, a visit to the Galleria d'Arte Moderna Sant'Anna is an artistic must. The museum in the Kalsa district is housed in two magnificent buildings: the former Baroque convent and the Gothic Palazzo Bonet. It displays works of art by Italian and international artists spanning the period from the mid-19th century to the 1960s. The founder was the lawyer and teacher Empedocle Restivo. 

The permanent exhibition with over two hundred works of art, 176 paintings and 38 sculptures, illustrates the development of Italian art between the 19th and 20th centuries in fourteen thematic sections. 

Large-scale works by Giuseppe Sciuti, the landscape paintings of Francesco Lojacono, naturalistic works by Antonio Leto and the paintings of Ettore De Maria Bergler with Art Nouveau touches can be admired here. 


Massimo Campigli, Felice Casorati, Mario Sironi, Renato Guttuso and Franz von Stuck represent the period of the 20th century Novecento Italiano movement. Here, the focus was on turning away from modernism and orienting oneself towards the motifs of the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance.  

Opening Hours & Admission Fees 

Admission: 8 EUR; 6 EUR (groups of 15 or more, persons aged 65 and over, visitors aged 19-25 and university students); children under 6, disabled persons and their accompanying persons and accredited journalists are free. 
Our tip: Free admission on the first Sunday of every month for the permanent exhibition!

Mon&Tues closed,

Wed-Sun 10-17.30 (1.3.-31.10)

#7 Palazzo Branciforte

When modern meets contemporary art, we are in Palazzo Branciforte. The baroque palace from the 16th century presents the important collections of the "Fondazione Sicilia" on an area of 5,650 sqm. Besides archaeological artefacts, stamps, coins and ceramics, we also find impressive sculptures and frescoes on wooden panels. The permanent exhibition is supplemented by regular temporary exhibitions. 

The exhibition rooms on the ground floor reveal archaeological finds and historical ceramics consisting of purchases from private owners, finds from excavations or borrowed objects. Some very rare pieces from Sicily can be found here. In the main part of the building, we can be enthralled by collections of stamps, coins and sculptures.

 

The historical library with more than 40,000 books is also housed in this area. The collection of stamps in particular contains examples of exceptional interest and rarity. 55 sculptures from the 19th and 20th centuries will also convince art lovers. The Monte di Santa Rolalia rooms reflect a magnificent wooden architecture with wooden shelves, interior staircases and platforms. 

A particularly exceptional collection of puppets, stage sets, playbills and barrel organs complements the Sicilian heritage of this museum as testimony to the ancient theatrical tradition.

Opening Hours & Admission Fees 

Admission prices: 7 EUR; reduced 5 EUR (groups of 15 persons or more, persons aged 65 and over)

Mon closed,

Tue-Sun 9.30-19.30 (1.3.-31.10), Tue-Sun 9.30-14.30 (1.11.-28.2.)

#8 Villa Zito

The stylish Villa Zito boasts an excellent collection of paintings and graphic works. It is named in honour of the rich citrus merchant Francesco Zito, who bought it in 1909. 

An important core of the collection are private donations, which enrich the exhibition with numerous works by well-known artists. The art show extends over three floors. On the ground floor, two rooms are dedicated to the donations of Rizzo Amorello. The first floor fascinates with graphic works and paintings from the 15th-19th centuries. And the second floor presents the donation of Cuccio Ales Cartaino alongside paintings from the 20th century.

 The painting collection is divided into three sections: The first thematic section is Ancient Painting with the main figures of the Baroque style in the 17th and 18th centuries. This style is represented by the artists Mattia Preti, Luca Giordano, Bernardo Strozzi, Francesco Solimena, Salvador Rosa.

The 1800s with landscape motifs and themes focusing on realism and naturalism are represented by the greatest leading artists in Sicily. Here we find works by Francesco Lojacono, Antonino Leto, Michele Catti and Ettore De Maria Bergler. 

 

And finally, we find the 1900s represented by exhibits by Sicilian and Italian artists Aleardo Terzi, Camillo Innocenti, Mario Sironi, Filippo De Pisis, Ottone Rosai, Carlo Carré, Arturo Tosi, Ugo Attardi, Fausto Pirandello, Renato Guttuso, Armando Pizzinato, Corrado Cagli. 

The collection of graphic works includes a wide range of geographical and topographical maps, landscapes and birdwatching of cities. Most of the works were realised between the 16th and 19th centuries and depict historical events, religious celebrations or local customs. 

Some of the exhibits in the Villa Zito

Some of the exhibits in the Villa Zito

Photo: © Villa Zito  / https://www.villazito.it/

Opening Hours & Admission Fees 

Admission prices: 5 EUR

reduced EUR 3 (groups of 15 or more and persons aged 65 or over)

Mo-Sun 9.30-19.30 (1.3.-31.10.);

Mo-Sun 9.30-13.30 (1.11-28.2.), Di geschlossen

#9 Museo Geologica Paleontologica G.G. Gemmellaro

For lovers of evolutionary history, the Museo Geologica Paleontologica G.G. Gemmellaro should be at the top of the visit agenda. The geological and palaeontological museum is one of the most important institutions in the Mediterranean region and is part of the University of Palermo as a research and teaching institution.

 

It owes its name to the Palermo scientist Gaetano Giorgio Gemmellaro, who took over the institute and its natural history collection in 1860 from his predecessor, the scientist Pietro Calcara (1819-1854).

Gemmallaro carried out numerous research projects and focused on the Sicilian dwarf elephants and various lava rocks. He founded stratigraphy, the basis for the history of all life on earth. 

The comprehensive collection is divided into four exhibition rooms. Fossils from the beginning of the Earth's history to the Tertiary period are exhibited in the main room, the Sala Burgio. Here the focus is on the development of the continents and living creatures. Maps skilfully illustrate the migration of the continents. 

In the Sala degli elefanti you can marvel at skeletons and fossils of deceased mammals such as elephants, bison or turtles. Particularly interesting is the display on the evolution of the elephants that had migrated from Africa to Sicily and died out on the island. 

In the Sala dei Cristalli we find mineralogical treasures such as lava rocks and calcites, some of which were formed six million years ago. Geological highlights here are, for example, pieces of lava from Isola Ferdinandea and a stone with an enclosed drop of seawater. 

The history of human development and culture on the island is on display in the Sala del Uomo. This reveals the finds from the Grotta San Teodoro near Acquedolci. Stone instruments, bite marks on materials, but also human skeletons can be admired here. The oldest skeleton of a Sicilian woman (approx. 11,000 years BC) is particularly impressive.

Skeletal reconstruction of the Sicilian Dwarf Elephant

Skeletal reconstruction of the Sicilian Dwarf Elephant

Photo: ​KalimaMuseo Gemmellaro Palermo 1, Detail from RM, CC BY 3.0

Opening Hours & Admission Fees 

Entrance fees: 4 EUR, 3 EUR (school classes of 10 or more); children up to 6 years, persons over 65 years and students as well as staff of the University of Palermo are free of charge.

Mon-Fri 9am-1pm, 3pm-5pm;

Sat 9am-1pm; Sun closed, last admission 30 minutes before closing (July and August: Mon-Fri 9am-1pm, Sat and Sun closed) 

#10 Museum of Zoology P.Doderlein

Fish, reptiles, birds, mammals - the Museum of Zoology in Palermo is particularly worth seeing, not only for children but also for big fauna fans. It was founded in the 19th century by the Italian zoologist and geologist Prof. Pierto Doderlein, to whom it owes its name.

 

The original fish, reptiles, birds, mammals - the Museum of Zoology in Palermo is particularly worth seeing, not only for children but also for big fauna fans. It was founded in the 19th century by the Italian zoologist and geologist Prof. Pierto Doderlein, to whom it owes its name.

 

The original furnishings allow visitors to skilfully recreate the atmosphere of the old days. Research and science provide the right dash of modernity here. Regular conferences by academic lecturers from national and international institutions as well as exciting laboratory activities for children are often found here in the cultural programme. 

About 1000 specimens of dried fish from the Mediterranean dating back to the 18th century make this collection one of the most important in Europe. Approximately 500 reptiles and amphibians stored and dried in alcohol are also an integral part of the museum. Among them, for example, the allochthonous, such as Xenopus laevis, a predatory frog that originates from Africa. 

The Doderlein collection also includes rare migratory birds and bird species that are extinct on the island, such as the eagle owl. As many as 1000 taxidermy specimens can be marvelled at here. Among the 250 stuffed mammals from Europe, Asia, Africa and America, two Sicilian wolves, whose species has long been extinct, are the highlight. Invertebrates and thousands of molluscs complete the collection. 

Interior of the Museo Zoologia Doderlein

Foto: ​Stendhal55Museo Zoologia Doderlein, Ausschnitt von RM, CC BY-SA 4.0

Opening Hours & Admission Fees 

Admission prices: 3 EUR

reduced 2,50 EUR (school classes from 10 persons); children up to 6 years, persons from 65 years and students as well as staff of the University of Palermo are free of charge

Mon-Fri 9am-1pm (July and August: Tue-Sat 10am-1pm, Sun 5pm-6pm) 

City map with the featured museums

Palermo Museum - pure art and culture

Palermo has a wide range of museums. We have put together what we consider to be the most important museums. However, depending on your interests, there are many more interesting museums.

We would not fail to mention the Palazzo Asmundo Museum, which preserves the Martorana collection. The Sicilian Pitrè Museum of Ethnography is also worth a visit. Those interested in the unvarnished history of the Mafia should definitely visit the No Mafia Memorial or Museo Falcone-Borsellino. In the Museo del Risorgimento we learn interesting facts about the history of the Italian wars of independence.

 

Also well worth a visit is the Palazzo Conte Federico, one of Palermo's oldest historic buildings. Here, art lovers can expect a private guided tour of the historic building with paintings by famous artists, 17th century wooden ceilings, 18th century frescoes and old ceramics. 

Our conclusion:

The range of art and culture is as diverse as the cityscape! 

View of Palermo from the roof of the cathedral

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