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Museums & Art Galleries in Sardinia

From the Citadel of Museums in the Castello district of Cagliari, the island’s administrative capital, to small rural towns, Sardinia has an exceptional collection of museums. They cover everything from the earth’s early geological history to the archaeology of more recent times. From Sardinia’s internationally recognised  industrial heritage to the many ethnographic collections and contemporary art galleries. From purpose-built museums to converted palazzos and castles. If wiling away a few hours in a museum is what you like to do while, there is no shortage of fascinating venues in Sardinia. 

Punic Age necklace found in a necropolis in Olbia, Sardinia.
#MyArchaeologyTravelSardinia - Gianluca Pitzeri

There is no better place to start discovering the archaeological history of Sardinia than the National Archaeological Museum in Cagliari. As one of the most important museums on the island, its display cases contain some iconic masterpieces of the island’s ancient history, from prehistory to the Middle Ages. The Nuragic Bronze Statues, the statues of the Giants of Mont’e Prama, the beautiful Punic Necklace in glass paste from Olbia (pictured here) or the Punic Ghignante Mask from San Sperate are just some of the many highlights in the collections. 

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List of Museums & Art Galleries in Sardinia

Antiquarium Arborense, Oristano

Founded in 1938 but based in the Palazzo Parpaglia since 28 November 1992, the museum houses some of the most significant antiquarian collections on the island, with artefacts mainly from Tharros. The museum tour is structured on two different floors: the ground floor hosts an engaging exhibition on forgeries derived from Nuragic bronze statues and tells the human history of the Oristano territory, from the Neolithic to the Roman and early medieval periods; the first floor houses the other rooms, one dedicated to archaeologists and Efisio Pischedda, former owner of the museum’s most important private collection, one to retables, with important paintings dating from the 13th to the 16th century, and a tactile room for blind people.

Antiquarium Turritano, Porto Torres

The museum is adjacent to the archaeological park of the ancient Roman colony of Turris Libisonis. It was built between 1971 and 1973 to house the many artefacts from the archaeological site but  only opened to the public in 1984. Numerous artefacts testify to the vibrancy of the city and its port activity are on display: ceramics and everyday utensils, votive and cultic furnishings, statues of the city’s magistrates who lived between the 1st and 3rd century AD, as well as inscriptions, cinerary urns and remarkable mosaics and frescoed plasters. Also visible in the museum are the partial remains of a thermal bath, brought to light during the building extension works.

Archaeological and Palaeobotanical Museum of Perfugas

The museum, founded in 1988, exhibits the most significant archaeological and palaeobotanical finds from Anglona, a historical region in Northern Sardinia that overlooks the Gulf of Asinara. Within five sections, dedicated respectively to palaeobotany, the Palaeolithic, Neolithic and Eneolithic, the Nuragic period, and the Classical and Medieval periods, the environmental and human history of the territory is exhibited. Starting from the plant fossils returned from the petrified forests, you can see finds of the first human habitation dating back to the Lower Palaeolithic, admire the magnificent statuette of a Mother Goddess with a child from the Middle Neolithic, and precious artefacts from the Nuragic and Roman periods.

Archaeological Museum Ferruccio Barreca

The museum has been open to the public since 9 January 2006, and houses numerous artefacts related to the ancient city of Sulky, which lies beneath modern Sant’Antioco. The centre was founded by the Phoenicians towards the end of the 9th century BC and was one of the most important trading ports in Sardinia throughout antiquity. The museum tour is narrated in three rooms, which respectively display the finds of the settlement, the necropolis, and the tophet, i.e. the three main nuclei of the urban settlement. Phoenician, Punic and Roman artefacts are displayed in the showcases, which attempt to narrate the different aspects of society, related to daily life, religious, funerary and sacred contexts.

Archaeological Museum of Olbia

The archaeological museum in Olbia celebrates hundreds of years of history in Sardinia’s north-east area. Located in the city’s harbour, this modern building was designed with portholes and walkways to reflect Olbia’s history as an important port. The permanent display take an extensive view of the various periods of Olbia’s past, from the Phoenicians, Greeks, to the Punic and Roman eras. Pride of place in the museum are the conserved remains of Roman boats that had sunk in the ancient harbour and discovered again during the construction of the museum building.

Archaeological Museum, Alghero

Inaugurated on 22 December 2016 inside a historic building dating from the 15th-16th centuries, the museum displays a vast array of objects relating to the history of Alghero and its surroundings. The exhibition plan, which is extremely clear and well marked, is structured around three thematic areas: the sea, ways of living, and the world of the sacred. The finds come from marine, settlement and sacred-funeral contexts, covering an age from the ancient Neolithic to the 17th century AD. Some of the reconstructions of the excavation contexts inside the museum are incredibly engaging, such as that of one of the rooms of the Roman villa of Sant’Imbenia, recomposed inside with the colourful and precious marbles that adorned it.

Casa Aragonese

In the centre of Fordongianus is a splendid example of Catalan Gothic architecture. The Casa Araganose, built between 1500 and 1600, is a typical house found in central Sardinia with architectural style influenced by the Spanish. What distinguishes it are the decorative elements of the doors and windows, made of red trachyte rock, and the front porch, recovered in the 1980-82 restoration. Today, the original building is divided into two units, probably separated at the end of the 19th century. Since 2021, its rooms have housed works made of wire mesh by the artist Mauro Podda, depicting various female figures engaged in domestic work to pay homage to the central figure of women.

Civic Archaeological Museum of Cabras

The Museo Civico “Giovanni Marongiu” – Cabras opened in 1997 exhibiting the local history of the Cabras municipality (including the Sinis Peninsular), from prehistory to medieval times. Artefacts come from Neolithic, Nuragic, Phoenician-Punic, Roman and medieval sites in the area. Two notable displays include the Roman shipwreck of Mal di Ventre, dated to the 1st century BC, and a small collection of the large stone statues, the ‘Sardinian Giants’, recovered by archaeologists at the Nuragic necropolis of Mont’e Prama.

Coral Museum of Alghero

The museum is housed in Villa Costantino, the only Art Nouveau period building in Alghero that can be visited. The museum tells the story of the link between Alghero and the Corallium Rubrum, which has always been one of its primary resources with which it identifies. The exhibition route covers the villa’s two floors, dealing with the subject of coral from a biological point of view and then moving on to the area’s mining history. In each room, coral is displayed inside showcases in its natural state and manufactured form, showing the splendid works of art that can be obtained from this material.

Eleonora d'Arborea Castle

The castle is the only one still habitable on the island, and is preserved in perfect condition. It was built between 1188 and 1195 at the behest of Pietro I Judge of Arborea, to defend the borders of his Judicate from the Judicate of Cagliari. It witnessed events that marked the history of medieval Sardinia, such as the Battle of Sanluri, which decreed the end of the Judicate of Arborea. Over time, it lost its defensive functions, eventually becoming the seat of the Risorgimental Museum Duke of Aosta, which contains various historical relics of the Risorgimento and the First World War. The rooms of the castle still house their original furniture, with pieces ranging from the 17th to the 20th century.

Episcopal Witchcraft and Inquisition Museum, Castelsardo

This small exhibition, divided into three parts, is in the former bishop’s seat of the Diocese of Ampurias. First, you can visit the rooms once inhabited by the bishops, with their original furniture still on display. The second deals with the subject of magic and alchemy on the island, with a particular historical focus on the period of the Inquisition and how its court was organised in Sardinia. Finally, the last part shows the machinery used to torture those found guilty.

Menhir Museum, Laconi

Since 2010 the museum has been housed in the Aymerich Palace, built in 1846 to a design by the Cagliaritan architect Gaetano Cima. Undoubtedly one of the most interesting museums on the island, 44 menhirs from the territory of Laconi and the province of Oristano are on permanent display. Following a tour of 11 galleries, the visitor traces the evolution of this phenomenon, which from simple shapes, goes on to represent complex symbols and anthropomorphic characters. Many statues represent engraved ‘upside-down’ and ‘dagger’ signs, expressions of a complex society to which the museum gives voice.

MOG, Museum of the Genovese Origins

Situated at the end of Piazza della Misericordia, right next to the Church of Saint Mary of Grace, on a vantage point dominating the western side of the walls. Originally it housed a Franciscan convent, later converted into a residence and art workshop. Inside the various rooms, you are guided by information panels and videos that tell the town’s history, starting from its beginning moving on to the presentation of the main sites of cultural interest in the Anglona area. It is an excellent starting point for getting to know the territory of Castelsardo and the historical and archaeological sites surrounding it.

Museum Ampuriense, Castelsardo

Beneath the Cathedral of Saint Anthony Abbot, inside the church’s crypt that once housed several tombs, is one of Castelsardo’s most absorbing museums. It houses true masterpieces of Sardinian sacred art, such as the 13th-century wooden statue of the Madonna di Salasciu, which is the oldest work of its kind on the island, and the surviving panels of the Retablo of Saint Anthony, made by a painter from Castelsardo in the 15th century. These are not only great works of art, they are important examples from the Sardinian Renaissance period. Despite the small size of the rooms, they are packed with exquisite and important works of art, making the museum one of the most fascinating attractions in the town.

Museum of Coal in Carbonia

What was the lamp room of the Sebariu coal mine has ben converted into a museum. An extensive permanent exhibition fills this vast industrial space. A series of displays tells the history of coal, as well as the story of the mine and the social impact it had on the town of Carbonia. Theer are many artefacts on display, such as the mine lamps, tools and everyday objects associated with the day to day activities of the miners. These objects are supplemented with photographs, historic documents, period film footage as well as video interviews with some of the miners who worked at the mine. Visitors can take an hour-long guided tour of the underground tunnels and the winch room.

Museum of Mediterranean Interweaving of Castelsardo

One of the oldest traditions of Sardinia, particularly Castelsardo, is the art of weaving, going back to at least the Nuragic period. From this operation, artefacts linked to the daily life, used in both fishing and agricultural activities, were obtained by weaving the vegetable fibres of the dwarf palm. The museum, located in the Doria Fortress and has nine exhibition rooms, showing different aspects of these artefacts, their uses and purposes, decorations and shapes, and the other techniques used to make them. Even today, walking through the streets of the medieval village, you can still come across basket weavers’ weaving using different types of plants.

Museum of Sulcitani Paleontological Environments “E. A. Martel”

The museum was founded in 1972 by the ‘Groupe Recherches Speleologique E. A. Martel’ of Carbonia. Since 2009, it has been housed in the former mechanical workshops of the Serbariu mine. The most dominant feature of the vast exhibition space is a life-size reproduction of a T-Rex dinosaur. The museum tells the story of how life on earth developed through the different geological periods. A vast collection of fossils, from all over the world, show how life evolved from the primordial forms to the origins of humans. At each opportunity reference is made to the geology and fossil record of Sardinia.

National Archaeological Museum, Cagliari

Given the quantity of objects from all over the island, this museum is certainly the most important in Sardinia. Since 1993 it has occupied one of the buildings in a complex known as the ‘Citadel of Museums’, built within the district of Castello, reusing the space of the ancient medieval walls. It houses more than 4,000 objects that tell 7,000 years of history, ranging from Prehistory to the Early Middle Ages, in an itinerary that is divided over 4 floors, each with different themes. In the collections visitors can admire statuettes of the mother goddesses, Nuragic bronze statues, a large part of the Nuragic giant statues of Mont’e Prama, as well as Punic and Phoenician jewellery and Roman statuary.

National Museum Giovanni Antonio Sanna, Sassari

Sassari has one of the most important museums in northern Sardinia, by virtue of its diverse collections and the numerous exhibits that have enriched its showcases over the years. It was initially built in 1878 to house the collection of antiquities that belonged to an industrialist and politician from Sassari from whom the museum takes its name. In 1932 the present site was built, and now housing some of Sardinian history’s most representative artefacts, starting with those from the Palaeolithic period, dating back 500 thousand years. A large room is dedicated to artefacts from the Nuragic period, in which the characteristic figured bronzes are displayed. The last part of the exhibition is dedicated to the Roman and early medieval period, with numerous artefacts from the nearby site of Turris Libisonis.

Nuragica - Museum of Nuragic Civilisation

The Nuragica experience is the perfect introduction to the Nuragic Civilisation of Sardinia. An hour-long guided tour takes visitors through all aspects, from the tombs of the giants, the advent of metal work and the production of the bronze figurines, to the sacred wells and the Giants of Mont’e Prama. A virtual reality experience provides another dimension. This is a great place to start for anyone with the slightest interest in the prehistory of Sardinia.

Villa Sulcis Archaeological Museum

Opened in 2008, the museum aims to tell the story of the Sulcis territory by exhibiting important artefacts, found in various archaeological sites. The tour begins by recounting prehistory and protohistory starting from 6000 BC, analysing the evolution of society from that time onwards. Particular attention is paid to the Nuragic civilisation, and Phoenician artefacts, to which a room is dedicated with material from Sant’Antioco-Sulky and Bitia. Another room is dedicated to the Phoenician-Punic centre of Monte Sirai, in which, in addition to the artefacts, reconstructions of a kitchen, burials, and tophet are proposed. The experience is certainly educational, and allows visitors to fully understand the identity of the area.