Since 1990 the museum has been housed in the 18th century former College of the Jesuits designed by the Bolognese architect Alfonso Torregiani.
The garden houses the Roman inscription collection with items dating from the 1st century B.C. to the 4th century A.D. providing insights into daily life, family t ties society and religion...
The Archaeological Section, shows an itinerary of archaeological heritage displaying human progress from prehistory (traces of the presence of homo erectus) to late antiquity (the end of Roman times).
Together with votive offerings, the period of the foundation of the colony of Arimimum is represented by coins known as aes grave, bearing the head of a Gaul, as well as the so-called pocola deorum, bowls with names and emblems of gods and the territorial layout of the colony.
A profile of Ariminum from the 3rd to 1st centuries B.C. follows. In this period typical Roman houses combine living space with workshop areas. Under Palazzo Battaglini a large amount of black painted table and kitchen ware, as well as lamps were unearthed.
The soul of the town is to be seen in the gravestones and funerary monuments in the burial grounds along the main roads leading to the town and the sculptures and decorative terracottas from religious and civic buildings. Covignano, with its woods and springs maintained it ancient vocation throughout the Roman period. In the early years of the 1st century A.D. the religious nature of the hill took on a monumental appearance. The eight column capitals, traditionally linked to San Lorenzo in Monte, like the Greek marble head of a goddess, recall a large temple encountering the great men of Roman history (from Camillus, to Flaminius, Marius to Caesar), Ariminum entered the Imperial Age as a colony re-founded by Augustus, who, apart from reorganising the street plan of the town and surrounding area, endowed it with important monuments (from the Arch to the bridge over the River Marecchia and the theatre), aqueducts and a drainage system. Industrial areas were turned into residential districts. The Roman houses (at Palazzo Massani, the Arch of Augustus, the former church of S.Francesco, the former Bishop's Palace, the Market Hall, Via Sigismondo...) have sophisticated mosaic floors with complex geometrical patterns, elegant figures, monochrome borders embellished with coloured marble. Furnishings and fixtures, frescoes, statues, ceramics and instrumenta are further evidence of a luxurious lifestyle in a prosperous, sophisticated town.
Two typical representatives of the mid-Imperial period are the Roman house at Palazzo Diotallevi (from which, among other things, the mosaic showing the entry of ships into the harbour comes, the harbour perhaps being that of Ariminum,- the emblem of the room devoted to the theme or the sea) as well as the Surgeon’s House.
The Surgeon's House was unearthed during excavations in nearby Piazza Ferrari. It is internationally famous for its unrivalled sets of Roman surgical instruments and equipment for the preparation of medicines. The glass paste panel depicting fish, a sophisticated decorative item in the triclinium is extremely rare. The graffito on the plaster of the room serving as a “day hospital”, the engravings on small medicine vases and the inscription on the pedestal of a statue recall Greek-Oriental culture.
The display is introduced by the taberna medica reconstructed on a scale similar to the original room.
Our itinerary continues into a kind of pantheon housing the gods and herpes of Ariminum: Eros, Dionysus, Priapus, Silenus, Venus, Minerva, Fortuna, Orpheus and the mythical Hercules.... Flanked by Eastern religious cults.
Floor mosaics are also foregrounded in the Rimini of Late Antiquity.
This sector displays some splendid examples from the excavations at Palazzo Gioia, Palazzo Palloni and the Market Hall. Here remains of palatial residences dating from the 5th and 6th centuries came lo light, in the context of a new building impulse from the Imperial court at Ravenna. Complex geometric patterns in delicate colours surround figures covering large surfaces. One of them is the so-called Venus looking into a Mirror and the scene of a procession with gifts from the Roman house at Palazzo Gioia which also gave us the mosaic of Victories, on the threshold of a large reception room; as an example of the best mosaic art of the 2nd century, the flooring lasted for centuries maintaining the original function of the room even when the house was rebuilt on a grand scale.
The mosaics provide evidence of the lifestyle of the late Imperial residences at the height of their splendour. But they also show their rapid decline, a prelude to their being abandoned in the mid 6th century, at the time of the Greek-Gothic war, the point where Roman Antiquity turned into the Middle Ages. A late Imperial mosaic is intruded upon by an anonymous tomb.