Museum of Civilisations | Museum of Oriental Art

Rome, Italy

© Museo delle Civiltà© Museo delle Civiltà
 - Mario Mineo

The ‘Giuseppe Tucci’ Museum of Oriental Art opened to the public in 1958 and houses finds from several Italian archaeological missions conducted in Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan. As well as this are numerous objects purchased on the antique market, particularly those by Giuseppe Tucci during his voyages in Nepal and Tibet between 1928 and 1954.

The museum’s Islamic wing includes a rich collection of objects sourced from both archaeological excavations and private purchases. The provenance of the collection is wide-ranging including the items from the geographical territories that now make up the countries of Spain, Egypt, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asia and India. Chronologically the material covers an extensive period from the 8th to 19th centuries CE. The collection is arranged along different classes of production including; ceramics, metal works, miniatures, manuscripts, numismatics, jewellery, textile art, glass, arms & armour and wood.

Of particular importance is the collection of archaeological finds from the palace of the Ghaznavid Sultan, Mas’ud III (1099-1115 CE) in Ghazni, Afghanistan. The archaeology of the site and its associated finds was brought to light by excavations conducted by the Archaeological Mission of the IsMEO (Istituto italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente) in the 1960’s. These consist mainly of elements of architectural decorations in brick and marble, marble funerary stones, ceramics and metals.

The museum's collection of Persian objects can be dated from the 8th to the 19th centuries. Ceramics from the Samanid (9th- 10th century) and Seljuk (11th -12th century) periods are well represented in the Museum collections. Ilkhanid period ceramics (13th -14th century), known for their use of ‘lajvardina’ glaze technique is also visible in the collections. The majority of metal objects within the Islamic collection stem from the Khorasan region of Eastern Iran and Western Afghanistan, a well-known historic centre for metallurgical production.


Since September 2016, the National Museum of Oriental Art in Rome has merged into the new Museum of Civilisation, definitively closing in October 2017 for the transfer to its new headquarters in the Palazzo delle Scienze. While awaiting the definitive re-arrangement planned for the end of 2021, a temporary exhibition called “Open for Works” exhibits over 650 objects from the Oriental Museum (of which about 60 is considered Islamic Art) in the rooms of the Pigorini Museum.

Museo delle Civiltà | Museo d’arte orientale “Giuseppe Tucci”
Piazza Guglielmo Marconi, 14
00144 Rome, Italy
T +39 06 549521
F +39 06 54952310

Filippo Maria Gambari

Curator Islamic Art
Michael Jung
T +39 06 5495218

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