The Paolo Giovio Archaeological Museum in Como has been housed for over a century inside Palazzo Giovio, which was the town residence of the Giovio counts. The Museum origins date back to the mid-nineteenth century and its first seat was at the Liceo Classico (Classical Studies High School). In 1894, the continuous increase of the collections led the Municipality of Como to transfer the civic museum and the notarial archive to its current location inside Palazzo Giovio, in the pedestian area within the city walls.
The Palazzo Giovio building, dating back to the late Middle Ages, underwent some changes in the 16th century by Benedetto Giovio but took on its current appearance, which responds to the Lombard Baroque, only later in the 18th century with Giovan Battista, who had large windows in the façade opened and created a loggia above the main entrance door.
The Palazzo is U-shaped, made up of a body facing the public area and two wings that inside define a courtyard, open on the fourth side. This type of structure is justified by the presence, on the back, of the embankment of the Roman and medieval walls, which lent itself to be used as a terraced garden (currently not accessible to the public - latest update: February 2018).
The arrangement of the garden dates back to the last decades of the 18th century, with the creation of the stairway and the beautiful nymphaeum that visitor can admire even from outside the gates of the Museum.
The frescoes on the main floor reflect the tastes of the eighteenth century: the "Sala Perrone" is entirely decorated with mythological scenes taken from famous paintings by Giovan Battista Rodriguez; next to it is the ballroom, "Sala Barelli", decorated with architectural quadrature by Giuseppe Coduri called il Vignoli; other paintings by Rodriguez are placed in the "Sala Giovio".
The "wedding hall" preserves a series of frescoes by Giovanni Battista Ronchelli in honor of the marriage of Count Giovio with Chiara Parravicini.
The museum was inaugurated in 1897 and the collections were made up of very heterogeneous materials, to which a better arrangement was made over the years with the acquisition of new spaces, starting with the institution of the Historical Museum (Museo Storico of Como) in 1932 until the opening of the Civic Art Gallery (Pinacteca Civica) in 1989 and the last restoration and re-construction works.