The ‘Giuseppe Tucci’ National Museum of Oriental Art opened to the public in 1958 as a special Superintendence of national relevance under the Direction General for Fine Arts of the Ministry of Education; since its establishment in 1975 the Ministry of Cultural Heritage confirmed and reinforced the national relevance of the Museum, e.g. provider of guide lines and/or assistance on scientific study, filing, exhibit and conservation/restoration of oriental archaeological/art objects in Italy. In 1958 the main bulk of the items on display in the Museum consisted of the archaeological and art collections belonging to the Italian Institute for the Middle and Far East (IsMEO), whose president, prof. Giuseppe Tucci, the Italian scholar renowned worldwide, played a pivotal role in promoting the establishment of the Museum.
Afterwards, the Museum, through the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, was able to acquire Asian archaeological and art objects on the Italian antiquarian market, relevant items and/or collections were donated by private individuals as well as by private and public Institutions, or acquired through pair-exchanges with Asian museums. Of particular relevance, in 1965, was the exchange with the Tokyo National Museum, through which 67 Japanese artefacts, representative of the Jomon, Yayoi and Kofun cultural sequence, entered the then extremely meagre Japanese art collection of the Museum. During the past fifty years the Japanese Collection has grown up, exceeding now 2200 items, most of which Edo period wood-block prints.
Besides the Administration Dept., and the curatorial departments organized on cultural-regional basis (LISTA), of strategic importance for the attainment of the Museum’s aims is the Educational Dept.&service. This latter carries out long-lasting educational programs aimed to the dissemination of the knowledge of the Asian cultures among the Italian public.
The educational programs, which are not addressed solely to primary&secondary schoolchildren, include:
- guided tours to the collections, eventually sided by specific historic-cultural introduction to a selected section
- educational projects, geared on in-school desk-meetings (at different levels of complexity according to the school-level and/or specific requests advanced by the regular teachers) and in Museum tours
- ludo-manual educational lab-activities
The Museum also provides various services to scholars and general public, including a Library specialized in oriental art, a rich photographic archive, restoration/conservation laboratories, and a diagnostic section of optical and electronic microscopy. The Museum also supervises the Archive of the Oriental Art Collections in Italy, that includes a very rich archive of images and scientific files.