The museum, inaugurated in 2005, is located in the southwest wing of the episcopal palace which dates back to the 17th century and houses a rich collection of items from the diocesan territory.
In the archaeological section we can admire the refined workmanship of the ”Altare delle Vittorie” dating back to the 2nd and 3rd century A.D., and a magnificent sarcophagus of the same period. The finds of Christian epigraphy, dated 4th and 5th century A.D., come from the area of the primitive basilica dedicated to Sant‘Agapito in the Quadrelle area.
One of the most important works kept in the museum is Aelous, which has been attributed to Michelangelo. It is a delicate bas-relief which, after having remained hidden for a great deal of time, has now been brought back to its original splendour. Equally notable is the painting depicting the “Madonna with Veil” from the school of Perugino, and the precious bust-reliquary of Sant’Agapito the Martyr made for Cardinal Marcantonio Colonna in 1588, chiseled in silver and gold foil and preserved in the Hall of Silver.
The precious textile art of sacred vestments is also represented. One can see copes (a liturgical vestment like a long mantle or cloak), belonging to Cardinal Girolamo Bassi della Rovere, dated 1492, and to Antonio Barberini Jr, from the seventeenth century. Worth noting are the “Sleeping Baby Jesus”, a sculpture from the 17th century, the Madonna from Loreto in papier-mâché, the “Holy Doll”, and a series of ancient parchments from the historical diocesan archives. “The Decapitation of San Gennaro or Sant’Agapito” has been on display at the museum since 2008. It has been attributed to Caravaggio and is from the Carmelite Convent of Sant’Antonio Abate in Palestrina, property of the “Fondo Edifici di Culto”.