These museums are the island’s most precious patrimony, an important link with the past, a record of the beauty of everyday life and the art of its people—essential for understanding the present and planning for the future.
A tour of the Mineral District Archeological Museum is an interesting way to complete your visit to Rio nell’Elba. The exhibition covers a long period of history, from the first-known creations dating to the Copper Era to artefacts from the Prehistoric, Etruscan, Roman and late-medieval periods.
The archeological museum in Marciana reconstructs the history and cultural environment of the western side of the island. The exhibition is organized into four rooms, covering the Prehistoric and ancient Etruscan period, the Etruscan fortress on Monte Castello, the Roman era and the use of Elban granite and cipolin; and shipwrecks in the Procchio bay.
This archaeological museum presents an exhibition of ancient history, with finds from the most important archeological sites in the Tuscan Archipelago, ranging from the 8th century BCE to the 5th century CE.
The museum houses Napoleon’s bronze funeral mask and a cast of one of his hands, as well as mementos of his time on Elba and a copy of the French emperor’s sarcophagus in Les Invalides in Paris.
There are about 200 artefacts from the mining areas in eastern Elba, which have been arranged according to where they were found. The pieces are of high interest in terms of both science and collecting. The museum is also home to an exhibition of original mining tools, offering visitors a look at how miners used to work.
The museum is housed in the former official residence of Napoleon and his court. It was built a century before his arrival in an area, but the emperor attempted to recreate, on a smaller scale, the entourage atmosphere that he had grown accustomed to in France. The residence currently preserves antiques, décor and furniture from Napoleon’s time, as well as a part of the interesting library that the emperor brought with him to the island.
Napoleon’s country residence owes its present appearance to Prince Demidoff, a distant relation of the Emperor. In 1851, he bought the simple house and enlarged it with a Neoclassical building that was later transformed in a museum known as the “Demidoff Gallery, home toa statue of Galathea attributed to Canova, who used Paolina Bonaparte Borghese, Napoleon’s sister, as the model.
Created by Italo Bolano in 1964, the open-air museum is situated in the heart of the island, in the Etruscan and Napoleonic valley of San Martino. There are 24 monuments by the Elban artist: totems that blend perfectly with the 10,000 square meters of typical Mediterranean plants. In the same area, there’s also a gallery with a permanent exhibition by Italo Bolano, who during the last 40 years of his life organized theatre events, artistic laboratories (when he invited Italian and international artists to create original ceramic productions which were then exhibited in the garden), and summer courses in painting and ceramics. Visitors themselves can participate in art lessons, or just take a peaceful walk around the garden.