Arsenal of Amalfi – Compass Museum

  /    /    /  Arsenal of Amalfi – Compass Museum

The ancient Amalfi Shipyard/Arsenal, symbol of the sea power of the 12 hundreds years old Marine Republic, is the only Arsenal still existing in the western world  that dates back to 1000 AD. Its massive and elegant stone structure is an impressive example of medieval architecture.

Designing the exhibition, my main goal was to preserve the history of the enclosure, so I refrained from introducing elements that could hide the bare structure.

Our tour begins in the first nave on the right, one of the aisles of the old shipyard where they built war ships. Here we put Roman and medieval archeological remains that were retrieved from the sea or were loot of the amalfitan navy.

The exposition in this area was realized with five irregularly shaped cases, metaphor of the fragmentary nature of archaeological finds and evoking the shape of a ship. It seems like ships are coming out of the walls to offer a vision of their cargo: containers and amphoras imported from all over the world: Sicily, the near and the far East.

Imperial Roman columns, capitals and other architectural elements were placed on the ground along the route, between the cases. These items were probably retrieved by the amalfitan navy between the XI and the XII century with the purpose of selling them or reuse them, as the beautiful marble sarcophagus, dating III-IV century, repurposed as a burial.

At the end of this aisle the route continues in the left nave. Here is a model of Amalfi, showing the shape of the city in the XIII century.

A historical galleon that survived many battles between Amalfi and the other Marine Republic was placed at the center of the aisle.

In the end, several cases are placed on a long ledge that reminds the shape of a coastline or a wave breaking on the shoreline. These cases appear to be almost floating and contain the Tarì, the coin minted in Amalfi, and naval tools like sextants and compasses.

The exposition ends with a little sculpture of Flavio Gioia, the supposed inventor of the compass.

A new lighting system has been employed to create chiaroscuro plays that exalt the items exposed and the exhibition space.




Amalfi, Italy

Exhibition design

Vincenzo De Luce


Petrucci S.R.L.


Municipality of Amalfi