The original nucleus of the modern collections was formed in the years following the Unification of Italy with objects formerly belonging to the Church; it was successively enlarged and enriched through donations, purchases and deposits. In 1977 part of the collections were transferred to the new National Museum of Palazzo Mansi
which houses also the Pinacoteca (Art Gallery): this permitted a more rational display of the remaining works in the vast rooms of Villa Guinigi.
The large number of items of different periods suggested a chronological disposition with miscellaneous material dated to the same period grouped together to form a unit. The Museum has a great number of large rooms: each room illustrates a single period in Lucca's artistic life with paintings, sculptures, portions of wall paintings, marquetry and furniture. It offers a journey through the different phases of Lucca's artistic life from the archaeological, numismatic and sphragistic (collection of seals) sections, to the collections of ceramics and of XIVth