In the aftermath of the catastrophic earthquake of 1908, which destroyed the city, Paolo Orsi developed the idea of building a large National Institute as a permanent museum dedicated to ancient Greece in Reggio Calabria. The project took shape in 1954 with the merger of local collections and state ones.
The new permanent exhibition, which originated from the remodeling of the building that started in 2009, features 220 displays and is divided into four levels, which tell the story of the human population in prehistoric times until Roman Calabria, in chronological order.
In 1981, the section intended to receive the famous Bronzes, the two statues discovered in 1972 in the Riace Marina (Reggio Calabria) seabed, along with the so-called bronze sculpture Head of a Philosopher, recovered in the Strait of Messina, in Porticello (Villa San Giovanni), and the so-called Head of Basel, has been prepared. These are the findings more known throughout the world, although they are not the only precious examples of the history of Calabria. In fact, as with the Museum of Bronzes, there are exhibitions related to a broad time span, from Prehistory to the Roman Age, some of them unique in their beauty, grandeur or condition.