A precious collection that documents arts, uses and customs of Magna Graecia, that is, the Mediterranean area of the Italian peninsula that was anciently colonized by the Greeks from the 8th century BC. The museum had already been established in 1882, but the current site was built specifically to a design by Marcello Piacentini in the years before the Second World War.
The collections of underwater archaeology are of exceptional interest, for the wrecks of a shipwreck near what is now Villa San Giovanni between the 5th and 4th centuries BC – including on-board pottery, the so-called Portrait of a Philosopher in bronze and another male head called from Basel – but above all for the two well-known Bronzes of Riace, a rare and perfect example of Greek bronze sculpture from the 5th century BC
Other sections expose what has come to light in the archaeological areas of Lokroi Epizephyrii (Locri), such as black and red figure vases, bronze mirrors, statuettes, masks, the entablature of a temple, in addition to the finds in the necropolis and ancient sacred areas of Rhegion (Reggio), Metauros (Gioia Tauro), Medma (Rosarno), Laos (Marcellina, near Santa Maria del Cedro), Caulonia (Monasterace Marina) and Crimisa (Cirò).
In the rooms dedicated to prehistory, from the Palaeolithic to the early Iron Age, ceramics, obsidian tools and bronze objects such as fibulae and bracelets are exhibited. Finally, there are also collections of Byzantine, mediaeval and modern art, as well as some architectural elements from the Abbey of S. Maria di Terreti.