The core of the museum dates to 1866, when the collection of antiquities of Prince Odone of Savoy was donated to the city of Genoa, a few years later part of the Varni and Perrando collections were added. In 1892, on the occasion of the Colombian celebrations, the Exhibition of Ancient Art was organized in Genoa, at Palazzo Bianco, which included the archaeological collections of the Municipality which remained subsequently there. After the acquisition of several collections of prehistoric items, in 1926 the Museum was transferred to Villetta di Negro and in 1932 the Museum became the centre of regional archaeological research of the time. However, in 1928 Villa Pallavicini (destined to become the new headquarters), was donated to the Municipality of Genoa, the museum was moved there in 1936 where it is today.
The museum preserves over 50,000 finds, largely from within the region, dating from the Paleolithic to the late Roman period: they are the result of acquisitions, collections and excavations of the 19th and 20th centuries. Among the collections are the collections of prehistoric items of Rossi, Perrando, Morelli, Issel and the finds from 20th century excavations at the Caene delle Arene Candide by Luigi Cardini and Luigi Bernabò Brea as well as those from the excavations carried out in Genoa, Luni, Libarna and Ventimiglia.
The finds dating to the Middle and Upper Paleolithic are the result of nineteenth-century research in dozens of caves in western Liguria, Balzi Rossi, Toirano, Finalese, while sensational finds were made in the Arene Candide cave (SV), such as the Palaeolithic burial sites, among which the oldest, around 24,000 years ago, is called the "Prince" of the Arenas Candide for the extraordinary wealth of the grave goods.
Of particular interest are those that bear testimony of Genoa: the large necropolis found in the late 19th – early 20th centuries in the heart of the city has brought to light 121 tombs containing Greek ceramics with red figures, Etruscan bronzes, alabaster and glass vases of Middle Eastern production. Significant finds also reveal the first evidence of metalworking in Liguria. The first of the statues-steles found in Lunigiana in 1827 deserves particular attention, the “Polcevera” tablet (found in 1506) in Pedemonte di Serra Riccò (Ge) bears, engraved in bronze, the earliest surviving legal act of the region (117 BC) as well as the archaeological sites with remains from important Roman cities of Liguria (Ventimiglia, Libarna, Tortona, Luni,) the result of excavations and acquisitions.
The Egyptian room displays the sarcophagus, mummy and clothing of the priest Pasherienaset, donated in the 1930s by the grandson of the illustrious Ligurian Antonio Figari, as well as a significant collection of finds which Ligurian travellers and collectors, such as Captain D Albertis, accumulated between the 19th and 20th centuries.
The visit to the Ligurian Archaeology Museum starts with two rooms, “100 thousand years in Liguria” and “the treasures of the Tyrrhenian Sea”. Here it is possible to understand what will be found in the rest of the Museum: the eras explored, the type of exhibits displayed, the geographic area examined, its characteristics and the way the Museum has chosen to illustrate to the visitor 100 thousand years of the history of Liguria. It is a story of climate and environmental changes, migration and human, social and economic revolutions.