The villa, located on the hill of San Martino in Pegli, is the result of the rebuilding of the eighteenth-century holiday palace that belonged to the doge of the Republic of Genoa from 1752 to 1754. Originally of the Giovanni Battista Grimaldi of the Grimaldi family, the building passed to two other important families of the time, the Durazzo and Pallavicini, united by ties of kinship.
In its current neoclassical aspect, it dates to the nineteenth century, when the Marquis Ignazio Alessandro Pallavicini, grandson of the Marquise Clelia Durazzo who in 1794 had built the botanical garden, started the renovation of the palace (1840-1846), the driveway and construction (entrusted to the designer Michele Canzio), of the park, one of the most accomplished examples of a nineteenth-century romantic garden.
The palace, spread over four floors, is of large dimension. Its main facade faces east above a plain which was originally covered with gardens and orchards.
The rooms and the painted or stucco decorations of the walls and ceilings of the building recall the neoclassical repertoire, while the tempera and stucco decoration of the "Green Room" recalls typical motifs of the eighteenth-century. The historical fresco in the hall of the main floor dates to the end of the nineteenth century. Some wall paintings were made by Michele Canzio and Giuseppe Isola, partially lost after the collapse of the ceiling in 1869. Ignazio Alessandro Pallavicini also remodelled the porch to the east of the body of the villa with the addition of the terrace which now connects the palace to the park.
In 1928 the villa was donated (by the last Pallavicini heirs) to the Municipality of Genoa, with the caveat that the building be dedicated to some cultural use and that the park be kept open to the public. Since 1936 the building has housed the Ligurian Archaeology Museum.