The Giovanni Barracco Museum of Ancient Sculpture collects works of classical art and of the Near East, donated to the city of Rome by Baron Giovanni Barracco in 1904.
Giovanni Barracco was born on April 28, 1829 in Isola Capo Rizzuto, in the Ionian Calabria, eighth of twelve children of a noble family of ancient origin. His family was considered to be the richest of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and his father was introduced to the Bourbon’s court, where he held honorary positions.
Giovanni Barracco's political commitment led him to stand in the first parliament of united Italy, and for this reason he moved to Turin in 1861. Here, in the city of the Royal Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, he was fascinated by Egyptology and Near Eastern art and began collecting works purchased from international antique markets.
With the proclamation of Rome as the capital city of the newborn Italian state, Barracco moved to Rome, settling in an apartment on via del Corso, which soon became a sort of house-museum.
His collection of antiquities grew and included works of Egyptian, Assyrian, Etruscan, Cypriot, Greek, Roman and medieval art: the collector’s intent was clearly stated intent in the 1893 catalogue: “to set up a small museum of comparative antique sculpture” by analyzing the contributions to classical art of the great ancient civilizations around the Mediterranean.
In 1902 Barracco donated his collection to the City of Rome: in return he was granted planning permission on Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, where he built a neoclassical building designed by Gaetano Koch to house his collection, known as the Museum of Ancient Sculpture.
Barracco died in 1914. Because of the restructuring of the area in the 1930s, Koch’s museum was demolished and only after more than ten years, Barracco’s collection found its final home in the "Farnesina ai Baullari”.