The birth of the Museo Irpino is linked to the person of the knight Giuseppe Zigarelli, a noble writer and passionate scholar of antiquity. In 1828 he set up a domestic museum at his palace in Avellino, the result of his collection of archaeological materials, partly found by chance in the central-eastern area of Irpinia and partly purchased. The collection was then increased in the following decades. Despite the total lack of a scientific classification of the objects according to their place of origin, the collection is the milestone for the establishment of the Museo Irpino.
In 1930 the Municipality of Avellino decided to entrust both the library and the museum to the Province.
On 7 December 1933 the mayor of Avellino Giuseppe de Conciliis and the president of the Province Eugenio Giliberti, wrote a letter to the Podestà and to the Honorary Inspectors of the Monuments and Excavations of the Province of Avellino, and laid the foundations for the establishment of the Museo Irpino: “… we propose to establish in this city a MUSEO IRPINO, whose first nucleus, of remarkable importance, will be constituted by the civic museum of Avellino, donated by the Zigarelli family…”.

The Museo Provinciale Irpino was born on 28 October 1934, with location in Piazza Matteotti, thanks to the prefect Enrico Trotta with the collaboration of the historian Salvatore Pescatori, then director of the provincial library and honorary inspector of antiquities.
The prefect Trotta was responsible for the promotion and development of the museum, urging several municipalities of the province to contribute to the development of the institution.
The war events and the insufficiency of the spaces unfortunately led to the removal of the material and the closure of the museum in 1942.
The 1950s were fundamental years for archaeological research in Irpinia. The promoter of the archaeological investigation throughout our territory was Giovanni Oscar Onorato, supported by the provincial administration and in particular by the then president, Avv. Vincenzo Barra.
Systematic excavation campaigns were conducted on a scientific basis at Mirabella Eclano, Madonna delle Grazie in Mirabella, Valle d’Ansanto in Rocca San Felice, while the English Trump, on behalf of the Superintendence, explored the prehistoric site at La Starza in Ariano Irpino.
In April 1954, promoted by the Superintendence of Antiquities in collaboration with the Tourist Board, an archaeological exhibition was inaugurated showing a group of finding from Aeclanum, Valle d’Ansanto, Atripalda and the Zigarelli collection.
The event marked the premise for the reopening of the museum.
Three years later, in June 1957, the museum was temporarily reopened in the spaces of the Prefecture palace in Via Mazas, while the Province entrusted the construction of a new building to the architect Francesco Fariello.
The transfer of the material to the new structure took place during the spring of 1965; the arrangement of the collections and the setting were entrusted to Prof. Mario Napoli, Superintendent for Antiquities of Salerno, Benevento and Avellino, supported by the inspectors Giuseppe Voza, Gabriella d’Henry, Bruno d’Agostino and Gabriella Pescatori with the collaboration of Consalvo Grella, later director of the museum.
The seat of Palace of Culture was inaugurated on 19 December 1966.
In 1970 the section of modern art and Risorgimento were also established.
It should be remembered that in 1903 the Province received a part of the paintings thanks to a testamentary donation by the painter Achille Martelli. The institution subsequently acquired other pictorial works datable between the 19th and 20th centuries by artists from Irpinia and beyond, some of which were purchased in the exhibitions of the Society of Fine Arts of Naples, all part of the gallery section opened in 2004 at the new structure of the Bourbon Prison.

“Archaeological research in Irpinia could not ignore its natural fulcrum, which is the institution of a museum, culturally meant not only as a place of collection or orderly exhibition of what has come to light or has been lovingly preserved, but also conceived as a driving force in the local visitors for an educational feeling of loving respect for the traditions of the past, which are often for us the most noble testimony of the city’s glories, and also in order to attract tourists from near or distant areas.”
G. Onorato, La ricerca archeologica in Irpinia