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What is the role of the Directorate-General of Museums? What are its functions and who manages it?


The Directorate-General of Museums aims to favour research and the dissemination of knowledge on the Italian cultural heritage kept in museums and presented in cultural places, in order to share their values and originality with the rest of the world.

It works to ensure complete access to and use of cultural heritage, monitoring the efficiency and quality of the services available to the public.

It intends to loyalise visitors to museums and cultural places, using new technologies and social media.

It sustains the birth of territorial networks that directly involve various players, each for their own skills, in order to fully assess the “widespread museum” which characterises the Italian cultural landscape.

It promotes innovative management systems, including interactive elements, for museums and cultural places.

It plans the future through the conservation of heritage and promotion of creativity, the quality of life and the cultural diversities present on the territory.


  • What does the Directorate-General do

    • 01 It guides and coordinates Italian state museums

      It performs functions of address and control, drawing up guidelines in compliance with the highest international standards, helping Italian museums to grow and improve.

    • 02 It enhances state cultural heritage

      It performs functions and tasks to make the most of state cultural heritage, favouring policies for the integration of cultural heritage and the landscape at territorial level.

    • 03 It regulates and favours access to structures

      It draws up guidelines on opening hours, ticketing and policies for admission prices to museums and state cultural places.

    • 04 It works on the territory

      It takes care of coordination among the regions, public authorities and private organisations, offering technical and administrative support at national level and promoting the formation of local museum centres for the integrated management of the activities of museums and cultural places.

    • 05 It takes care of cultural projects

      It promotes agreements and facilitates the exchange of works at international level, establishing the criteria for the loan of assets and declaring the relevant cultural or scientific interest of exhibitions, events and displays.

    • 06 It monitors quality

      It constantly updates the service charter, draws up qualitative parameters in compliance with the ICOM standards and ensures observance of the guidelines by state museums.

    • 07 It encourages active participation

      It draws up and publishes an annual report on the management of museum services, promoting and managing awareness projects and public fundraising campaigns of cultural interest.

    Massimo Osanna
    Director-General of Museums

    + 39 06 6723 4930

    Massimo Osanna – full Professor of Classical Archaeology at the University of Napoli “Federico II” – is Director General of Museums at the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism. He received his PhD in Archaeology from the University of Perugia, where he studied the greek colonization in Italy and a PhD in History from the University of San Marino, studing the religion of the ancient Peloponnesos. He carried out researches at the Italian Archaeological School of Athens and the University of Heidelberg (fellowship Alexander von Humboldt). He undertook his professional activity at the University of Basilicata where he was a Lecturer in classical archeology (since 1994), Associate professor (since 2000) and Director of the School of Specialization in Archaeological Heritage in Matera (2002-2014). He was also Superintendent for the Archaeological Heritage of Basilicata (2007-2008); Directeur d’etude (2007) at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes in Paris (2007); Professor of Classical Archeology at the University of Heidelberg (2010); research fellow Alexander von Humboldt at the Humboldt-Universität Berlin (2011); visiting professor at the École Normale Supérieure, Paris (2013). Between 2014 and 2020 he has been the Director of the Archaeological Park of Pompei.

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  • Offices

    The Directorate-General is organised into two offices: Department I which takes care of General Affairs, and Department II which takes care of Museum management and development.

    • Department I

      Museum Collections. This Department handles general affairs, plans the budget, takes care of personnel management and settles any disputes.


      It draws up explanatory directives and circulars on matters for which Directorate-General  is responsible.

      It prepares the elements for drawing up regulatory acts and the response to parliamentary acts of address, control and audits.

      It takes care of relations with the Court of Auditors and the links up with the O.I.V. for the fulfilment and monitoring of advertising and transparency obligations.

      It supplies support to the Director-General in the supervision of museums with special autonomy and the operation of the Technical-scientific committee for museums and the cultural economy.

      It takes care of the preliminary activities for operations aimed at financial rebalancing between institutions and state-owned cultural places.

      Using the databases prepared by the Directorate-General of Organisation, it draws up parameters and quantities, procedures and IT models aimed at assessing the management of the institutions and of state-owned cultural places, in terms of expense, efficiency and effectiveness.

      It promotes the disbursement of liberal donations by members of the public.


      It takes care of cultural agreements with prestigious Italian and foreign institutions, aimed at the organisation of exhibitions and displays; the declaration of considerable cultural or scientific interest of cultural heritage exhibitions or displays; as well as the fulfilment of obligations relating to the purchase of cultural elements or assets, with the approval of the pertinent Technical-scientific committee.

      It takes on the risks to which the cultural assets for which the participation in exhibitions or displays has been authorised in Italy or abroad are exposed (in compliance with article 48, paragraph 5, of the Cultural heritage and landscape Code).

      It takes care of the intangible heritage rights due to the State from exhibitions, displays or events.

      It supports the Director-General, after talking to the pertinent consultation bodies, in the preparation of the criteria and guidelines for the receipt on loan or deposit of things or assets from institutions and cultural places (in compliance with art. 44 of the Code).

      Felice Pier Carlo Iacobellis
      Director of Department I

      + 39 06 6723 4978

    • Department II

      Management and development of museums and cultural places. It coordinates the activities performed by the decentralised structures and institutions with special autonomy.


      It promotes, also through an agreement with Regions, local authorities and other public and private parties, the formation of museum poles for the integrated management and coordination of the activity of museums and cultural places within the same territory.


      It draws up models, standards and guidelines for the management and development of institutions and cultural places, with particular regard to museums, in compliance with the standards drawn up by ICOM.
      It draws up qualitative and quantitative parameters, procedures and IT models aimed at assessing the quality of use and development services provided by institutions and state cultural places.


      It draws up guidelines on opening hours, ticketing and policies for admission prices to museums and state cultural places, also in combined form.
      It prepares models for calls for tender and agreements for the assignment of services for the public, as well as for the formation of legal subjects for the development of cultural heritage.
      It draws up the annual report on the management of services for the public at institutions and cultural places.


      It draws up and promotes projects aimed at the increase in the tourist offering destined to the fruition of cultural heritage, with particular reference to the sites and elements declared to cultural or intangible world heritage by UNESCO.
      It participates in the definition of the strategic addresses of projects relating to the tourist promotion of cultural and special landscape itineraries.

      To be assigned
      Director of Department II

      + 39 06 6723 4963



  • State museums with special autonomy

    The Directorate-General exercises powers of management, address, coordination and control over the following institutions and museums of considerable national interest, with scientific, financial, accounting and organisational autonomy.

    Among the museums of considerable national interest with special autonomy, the following Institutions depend functionally on the Directorate-General.

  • Direzioni regionali Musei

    The Complexes, decentralised structures of the Directorate-General, coordinate and promote museum systems at regional level, favouring the creation of integrated services and guaranteeing standardised levels of quality.


    They guarantee the public use and development of institutions and cultural places throughout the region, assigned to or managed by the State.

    Their job is to define strategies and common development aims for the museums under their jurisdiction, ensuring the most extensive use of cultural heritage.


    They define shared strategies and development goals in the area of jurisdiction.

    They coordinate all the activities involved in the management, development, communication and promotion of the national museum system within the region.


    They promote the integration of cultural use routes and cultural tourism itineraries.

  • Technical-scientific committee for museums and the cultural economy

    Technical-scientific committees are Ministerial advisory bodies, working particularly with the Directorates in the sector.


    The Directorate-General of Museums, in pursuing its activity and for matters of its own jurisdiction, engages the services of the Technical-scientific committee for museums and the cultural economy. The advisory body is chaired by Fabio Donato and its members are Paola Dubini, Pierluigi Sacco and Maria Utili, and it performs the following functions:

    • it forwards proposals for the definition of plans and programmes for cultural heritage and landscape aimed at encouraging an increase in resources destined to the sector;
    • it expresses opinions upon request of the Secretary General or the Directorate-General, and forwards proposals on matters of a technical-economic nature, concerning cultural heritage operations.

Museums in Italy

In 2014, the Ministerial Decree for the organisation and operation of state museums introduced lots of new elements into the organisation of the museum system, defining the mission of museums and new management methods, along with a strong investment in the development of Italian cultural heritage.


“Museums are non-profit, permanent institutions in the service of society and its development. They are open to the public and perform research, with tangible and intangible evidence of mankind and man’s environment; they acquire it, conserve it, communicate it and display it for study, entertainment and educational purposes, promoting awareness of it among the public and the scientific community”.

State museums are technically-scientifically autonomous and perform functions of defence and development of the collections in them, insuring them and promoting their use by the public.

The storage, enhancement and communication of museums are aimed at promoting knowledge and public fruition of cultural heritage, envisaged by art. 9 of the Italian Constitution, and are organised according to a management plan.

The public accessibility of the collections means that they will be conserved, to guarantee their physical integrity; and kept in order, to ensure their cultural integrity. Every museum aims to optimise public accessibility and maximise the satisfaction of visitors’ needs (cognitive, aesthetic and social).

Museums perform research, with tangible and intangible evidence of mankind and man’s environment.

Brief history of museums in Italy [expand]


After the Unification of Italy (1861) and with the laws of suppression of the ecclesiastic organisations (1867), the State acquired the collections and museums of the pre-unification states, with the sole exception of the Vatican Museums, and new national museums were set up, without, however, creating an integrated system with civic and local museums, which, in the long-term, produced a gap in the management of cultural heritage between the State and other territorial authorities.


In the years leading up to the First World War, the adoption and reform of the first law on protection (between 1902 and 1909), together with the reorganisation of the Directorate-General  of antiquities and fine arts, led to the birth of the Superintendence departments, to which the state museums were assigned.


In the overall situation of rebirth that distinguished the years following the Second World War, museum life recommenced. In 1950, there were 451 museums in Italy, including monumental complexes and residences. In the 1970s, while local authority museums obtained legal acknowledgement as ‘non-state’ (Law 22 September 1960, no. 1080), the Parliamentary Commission appointed to study an administrative arrangement for cultural assets, reported the opportunity to give most state museums independence and to adopt common legislation for all state and local authority museums, in order to overcome the problems of concentration ad coordination of the respective territorial functions.


With the mandate laws of the 70s, responsibility in terms of setting up, organising and operating museums was transferred from the State to the Regions, producing a heterogeneous effect and a generally disarticulated management of cultural heritage. Within the scope of the territorial responsibilities of the Superintendence departments, the coeval institution of the Ministry of cultural and environmental heritage (1975) continued to sacrifice the autonomy of state museums.


The museum community tried to achieve reorganisation, in a system integrated with Legislative Decree no. 112 of 1998 (the final act in the decentralisation process launched by the founding fathers). The Regions and Independent Provinces were called upon to work on cultural assets, playing a subordinate and complementary role to that of the State. The proposal to transfer some of the state museums to the territorial organisations envisaged by art. 150, came to nothing.

The Decree led to the production of the “Act of address on technical-scientific criteria and operation and development standards for museums”. The provision – triggered by the joint commitment of the Conference of Regions, local authorities, the Ministry of cultural heritage and activities, and the Italian National Committee of the ICOM – restored dignity to museums in a context characterised by innovative principles sanctioned by the Cultural Heritage and Landscape Code (Decree-Law no. 42 dated 22 January 2004).


In 2004, the Cultural Heritage and Landscape Code relaunched the integrated vision of Italian cultural heritage in observance of art. 9 of the Republican Constitution. With the Code, museums finally stopped, also at legislative level, being static containers of objects or collections of objects, and became “permanent structures which acquire, conserve, order and display cultural heritage for the purposes of education and study” (art. 101). This made it necessary to create a charter and regulations, to observe determined technical-scientific criteria and to have an organisation and professionals to staff it.

With its reiterated call for collaboration by State, Regions, local authorities and metropolitan cities, the Code opened the way to a global rethink of the system of protection and management of Italian cultural heritage, enabling the reform of the Ministry of cultural heritage and activities and tourism (Decree of the President of the Coucil of Ministers no. 171 of 2014), which set up the new Directorate-General of Museums.


The proliferation of museums that distinguished Italy in the last twenty years of the 20th century (1631 in 1980, 3311 in 1996), is confirmed by the results of the ISTAT survey carried. The overall museum sector is not only rich but is also quite young. In this evolving scenario, the first museum standards were established in 2001 and the minimum standardised quality levels were prepared for the development activities envisaged by the Code. The national museum system was launched and became reality, and the Directorate-General of Museums now takes over its direction.


Every museum has its own charter, drawn up in compliance with the “Act of address on technical-scientific criteria and development standards for museums” (Ministerial Decree 10 May 2001), and its own financial statements, created in compliance with principles of publicity and transparency, which highlights the planning and results of its financial and accounting management.


The fact that every museum has a charter and regulations, even if it doesn’t have the legal status of an independent authority, is a minimum requisite for the recognition of a museum. To be able to talk about a museum, there has to be a written deed declaring its aims and functions, and its governance and management must be regulated.

On the basis of the “Act of address on technical-scientific criteria and development standards for museums”:

“Every museum must have a charter and/or written regulations which, regardless of the deed of constitution, comply with the general definition of a museum, clearly indicates:

  • its nature as a permanent, non-profit body;
  • the museum’s mission and objectives;
  • the forms of governance and management;
  • the financial organisation and accounting system;
  • staff regulations;
  • structural equipment and safety regulations;
  • capital;
  • general principles for management and care of the collections;
  • general principles of provision of services to the public;
  • methods used to collect details on the activity and management of the museum;
  • the tasks and functions that the museum intends to undertake with reference to the territorial context, and within the sphere of a possible organisation in associated form.

The main responsibility of equipping museums that depend on them with a charter and/or structured regulations, falls to the Organisation that owns them or to the Management.

The museum’s governing organisation must approve and publish a plan which identifies the annual and long-term aims, in compliance with the museum charter and/or regulations”.


Every museum has five different functional areas, each assigned to the management of one or more staff units:

  • management;
  • care and management of collections, study, education and research;
  • marketing, fundraising, services and relations with the public, public relations;
  • administration, finance and management of human resources;
  • structures, layouts and security.

The museum director is the keeper and the interpreter of the museum’s identity and mission, observing the Ministry’s instructions.


The Faro Convention, promoted by the European Council and in force since 2011, recently signed by Italy, is the main model of reference. This model envisages a synergy between public institutions and stakeholders for the defence, development and transmission – with shared supporting actions – of cultural heritage to future generations.

The Directorate-General  guarantees its operating support for the creation of Foundations of participation, or other management models capable of planning and coordinating cultural development and tourism strategies, and of incorporating them with the infrastructures present and the resources that represent the identity of an area.


In keeping with the standards established by the “Act of address on technical-scientific criteria and operating and development standards for museums”, the Directorate-General of Museums prepares operating and development standards for museums and checks their observance by state museums. It also assesses individual managements in terms of expense, efficiency and effectiveness, as well as the quality of services of use and development.


The “Act of address on technical-scientific criteria and operating and development standards for museums” establishes minimum requisites, reference values, acts due, guidelines, operational criteria and procedures. It is a quality manual, a helpful diagnostic tool, also for the self-assessment of the situation in which Italian museums find themselves.

The text is split into eight reference areas: I Legal status; II Operational layout; III Structures; IV Personnel; V Security; VI Management of collections; VII Relations with the public and relative services; VIII Relations with the territory.

The instructions and indications contained in the ministerial decree have different degrees of effectiveness in relation to those to whom they are addressed. Instructions concerning the safety of people and things cannot be avoided, while there is much room for discretion with regard to promotion and educational activities.

Among the very few obligations clearly explained in the text, two are indicated as unavoidable:

  • equipping the museum with a charter or regulations;
  • clearly identifying the director of the collections and activities.

The “Act of address” is an opportunity for recognition and affirmation of rights and obligations, which opens up prospects for informed and responsible accreditation in the museum world.


The Ministry of Cultural Heritage aims to create a network of Italian museums and integrate museum services and activities.

All the museums organised in observance of the “Act of address on technical-scientific criteria and operating and development standards for museums” can join the National museum system.

It comprises state museums and, where special agreements have been entered into, every other public or private museum, including the scientific, university and demo-ethno-anthropological museums.

It is split into regional museum systems and city museum systems. The methods of organisation and use of this national network are established by the Directorate-General of Museums, which is responsible for the promotion, development and creation of the System, in order to encourage constant communication between the various public and private museum organisations in the area, and to generate an integrated offering, along with activities and services to the public.


The new organisation of state museums consists of 30 Museums of considerable national importance, with special autonomy, and more than 500 institutions including museums, archaeology areas and parks and monuments distributed throughout Italy. These are managed by 17 Regional museum complexes – with the exception of the Special Statute Regions of Valle d’Aosta, Trentino Alto Adige and Sicily.


In 2014/2015, the first 20 museums with scientific, financial, accounting and organisational independence were created: Galleria Borghese, Gallerie degli Uffizi, Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Roma, Gallerie dell’Accademia di Venezia, Museo di Capodimonte, Pinacoteca di Brera, Reggia di Caserta, Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze, Gallerie Estensi di Modena e Ferrara, Gallerie Nazionali d’arte antica di Roma, Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli, Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Reggio Calabria, Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Taranto, Parco archeologico di Paestum, Palazzo Ducale di Mantova, Palazzo Reale di Genova, Polo Reale di Torino, Galleria Nazionale delle Marche and Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria.

In 2016, with the second phase of the reform on cultural heritage, the number of autonomous museums rose to 30. New cultural institutions and independent archaeology parks were set up: Complesso monumentale della Pilotta di Parma (Biblioteca palatina, Galleria Nazionale, Museo Archeologico Nazionale), Musei delle Civiltà all’EUR (Museo Nazionale Preistorico e Etnografico, Museo nazionale delle arti e tradizioni popolari, Museo dell’Alto Medioevo), Museo Nazionale Etrusco di Villa Giulia, Museo Nazionale Romano, Museo storico e Parco del Castello di Miramare a Trieste, Parco Archeologico dell’Appia Antica, Parco archeologico dei Campi Flegrei (Bagnoli, Baia, Bacoli e Pozzuoli), Parco archeologico di Ercolano, Parco archeologico di Ostia Antica, Villa Adriana e Villa d’Este (Tivoli).

The Special Superintendence for the Colosseum and the Archaeological Area of Rome and the Special Superintendence for Pompeii still hold special autonomy.


Regional museum complexes guarantee the public service of use and development of institutions and cultural places, assigned to the State or to its management, throughout the territory, defining shared strategies and objectives in terms of assessment, in relation to the territorial sphere in question. The complexes promote the integration of cultural processes of use and consequent cultural tourism itineraries.

In 2016, the map of museums and cultural places assigned to the management of the Regional museum complexes was further expanded.

law and texts of reference

The Italian law and texts of reference:

  • Ministerial Decree dated 21 February 2018 n. 113, “Adoption of uniform minimum standards of quality for public museums and cultural places and activation of the National Museum System”
  • Ministerial Decree dated 07 February 2018 n. 88, amending the Decree dated 23 December 2014 “Organisation and operation of State Museums”
  • Ministerial Decree 12 January 2017, “Adaptation of the Special Superintendencies to align them with international standards for museums and places of culture”
  • Ministerial Decree dated 23 January 2016, “Reorganisation of the Ministry of cultural heritage and activities and tourism in compliance with article 1, paragraph 327, of Law no. 208, dated 28 December 2015”
  • Ministerial Decree dated 14 October 2015, amending the Decree dated 23 December 2014 “Organisation and operation of State Museums”
  • Ministerial Decree dated 6 October 2015, “Granting of state cultural properties for use by private parties”
  • Decree-Law no. 146, dated 20 September 2015 “Urgent measures for the use of the nation’s historical and artistic heritage”
  • Ministerial Decree dated 23 December 2014, “Organisation and operation of State Museums”
  • Decree of the President of the Council of Ministers no. 171, dated 29 August 2014, “Regulation of organisation of the Ministry of cultural heritage and activities and tourism, of offices of direct collaboration of the Ministry and the Independent organisation for the assessment of performance”
  • Decree-Law no. 83, dated 31 May 2014, “Urgent provisions for the defence of cultural heritage, the development of culture and the relaunch of tourism”, converted with amendments into Law no. 106, dated 29 July 2014 and subsequent amendments
  • Decree Law no. 91, dated 8 August 2013, “Urgent provisions for the defence, development and relaunch of cultural heritage and tourism” (known as “Valore Cultura”), converted with amendments by Law no. 112, dated 7 October 2013
  • Ministerial Decree dated 18 April 2012, “Adoption of guidelines for the set-up and development of archaeology parks”
  • Legislative Decree no. 42, dated 22 January 2004, “Cultural Heritage and Landscape Code”, and subsequent amendments
  • Ministerial Decree dated 10 May 2001, “Act of address on technical-scientific criteria and operation and development standards for museums”
  • Ministerial Decree no. 507, dated 11 December 1997, “Regulation for the institution of entrance tickets to monuments, museums, galleries, ancient excavations, monumental parks and gardens belonging to the State”, and subsequent amendments

International texts of reference:

  • UNESCO Recommendation concerning the protection and promotion of Museums and collections, their diversity and their role in society, Paris 2015
  • ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums, 2013
  • Council of Europe Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society, Faro 2005, signed by Italy on 27 February 2013
  • UNESCO Convention for the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage, Paris 2003, ratified by Italy on 27 September 2007 with Law no. 167
  • UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, Paris 2005
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