The Antiquarium of Pompeii was realised by Giuseppe Fiorelli between 1873 and 1874 in the areas under the terrace of the Temple of Venus, facing Porta Marina. It was the exhibition site of a selection of finds hailing from Pompeii, which served as an example of the daily life in the ancient city, as well as exhibiting casts of the eruption victims. In 1926, it was expanded by Amedeo Maiuri, who not only added large maps showing updated developments of the excavations from 1748 onwards, but also inserted new finds from Villa Pisanella of Boscoreale as well as from the most recent excavations in Via dell’Abbondanza, and set up a route that guided the visitors through Pompeii’s history, from its origins to the eruption. The building was then seriously damaged by bombs during World War II, in September 1943. However, thanks to Maiuri’s renovation intervention, it was reopened to visitors on the two hundredth anniversary of Pompeii’s excavations, on 13th June 1948. It was damaged again, this time by an earthquake in 1980, and it had been closed to the public since then. However, after a general renovation in 2010, the restored building was again open for public use with work on integrated outfittings offering a more complete  multimedia and museum-like experience to the visitors. This renovation grants all visitors easier access to the archaeological area of Pompeii thanks to the installation of an elevator that leads from the height of Villa Imperiale to the height of the Antiquarium covering, in line with the Temple of Venus.
It was reopened to the public as visitor centre and museum area in April 2016.


The floor on level with Villa Imperiale is reserved for the permanent exhibition dedicated to places of worship in pre-Roman Pompeii, such as the Doric Temple, the Temple of Apollo, the Sanctuary of Fondo Iozzino and the Sanctuary of St. Abbondio. Finds hailing from old excavations as well as from the most recent archaeological studies by the Superintendency are on display.
On the same floor as the level of the entrance terrace, there are three rooms dedicated to temporary exhibitions and the room of the relief map, were a reconstruction model of ancient Pompeii is on display. This model provides for the use of image mapping in order to communicate aspects of the city’s history, its urban and territorial development, and its destruction and discovery. Virtual reality applications are connected to the mapped projections on the scale model in order to show the visitor the city’s most relevant locations.
A new and bigger bookstore with a wide selection of didactic and specialized texts, design items, and merchandising is set up on the same floor. Concession is granted to the consortium Arte’m.
The upper floor is reserved for temporary exhibitions and it is accessible by elevator. The Temple of Venus and thus the archaeological area can then be reached by means of either a few steps or a metallic ramp.