The museum is hosted inside the Archiepiscopal Palace, which dates back to the fifth century a.D. and underwent several restoration works. Archbishop Maffeo Niccolò Farsetti strongly wanted this museum to preserve the marbles and stones extracted from the nearby cathedral, after the restoration works carried out during the 16th century.
In 1911, Superintendent Giuseppe Gerola added to the already existing Sala Lapidaria (Lapidary Room) a collection of sacred items gathered over the centuries, which is known as the “Cathedral’s treasure”
The Archiepiscopal Museum’s collection
To the museum’s collection belong some objects of extreme beauty, such as the pulpit of Massimian, one of the most famous ivory works made by Byzantine artists in the sixth century, and the Cross of Agnello.
On the upper floor is a small picture gallery, with works dating back between 1500 and 1800; the so-called “Sala delle Pianete” (Hall of the Planets), a collection of sacred vestments dating from the eleventh to the twelfth century; the Sala della Torre Sallusta (Room of the Sallusta Tower), a remnant from the Trajan era, with a display of precious processional crosses and mosaic fragments from the Cathedral.
The Archiepiscopal Museum is mainly known as the site of one of the eight monuments composing the UNESCO site of the city: it hosts the Archiepiscopal Chapel, a Late Christian oratorio with a Greek cross vault, ordered by Pietro II, bishop of Ravenna, and it is today the only still extant Late Christian chapel.