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.

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