The Arsenals

The exhibition of “Le Navi Antiche di Pisa” takes place in the halls and aisles of the “Arsenali Medicei” (the Medici Arsenals), along river Arno. Originally, these were warehouses destined to the building and upkeep of the galleys used by the knights of the order of St. Stephen – the Order of Chivalry whose duty was to protect the coasts from the Saracen threat. The arsenals were soon abandoned and became first barracks, and then stables. Until the middle of the 20th century, they hosted the Italian Army’s horse breeding centre.

The intention to preserve the structure of the Arsenals influenced the museum’s choices, mainly in rooms I, II and VIII, where the maintenance of the horse boxes imposed a narration structured in microchapters, similar to mini-steps. The large volumes of the aisles, instead, are the ideal space to display the big restored ships.