The museum is located inside an ancient castle, the Castello dei Paleologi, named after the Palaeologus dynasty which ruled over Monferrato for centuries.
The town, probably founded in the 2nd century BC and originally called Aquae Statiellae, had a number of important structures during Roman times, such as an aqueduct, a theatre, an amphitheatre, a forum and baths. Its hot springs were famous even then, with Pliny himself praising the baths as among the best in the empire.
The castle’s construction can be dated to around the 11th century. The residence of Acqui’s count-bishops until the mid-13th century, it then became the medieval town’s fortress and seat of the city’s rulers before passing into the hands of the Palaeologus marquises at the end of the 13th century.
Acqui Terme was conquered by the Sforzas in 1430. Following the return of the marquises of Monferrato the castle was rebuilt and in 1533 it passed to the Gonzagas of Mantua. Between the 16th and 17th centuries it was destroyed in a series of attacks by the French and the Spanish. The first rebuilding took place in 1663 and reconstruction was completed in 1815 by Victor Emmanuel I.
The museum was renovated in 2001. Visitors can follow a route that takes them from prehistory to the Middle Ages.
The first rooms are dedicated to prehistory and protohistory, while the Roman section displays finds from the town’s public and residential buildings, sophisticated objects from urban necropolises, sculptures and funerary steles.
The main room focuses on the town’s hot springs and their curative properties, presenting the reconstruction of the ancient Bollente fountain.
The exhibition closes with a section devoted to the Late Antique and Medieval periods.
Local sights: La Bollente, ancient baths, aqueduct, cathedral, Addolorata church (Romanesque basilica of St. Peter) and art exhibitions at Palazzo Saracco, Palazzo Robellini and Palazzo Chiabrera
In the area: Alto Monferrato castles, Roccaverano
Typical products: wines (Dolcetto d’Acqui, Gavi DOCG, Cortese del Monferrato, Moscato d’Asti, Brachetto di Acqui, Passito di Strevi), Roccaverano Robiola cheese, Ponzone Filetto Baciato salami, white Alba truffles, Amaretti d’Acqui, Visone nougat
Sports: horseriding, tennis, golf (Le Colline), swimming
Events: mostra antologica di pittura (june-July), "Acqui in Palcoscenico" (July-August), theatre season, Acqui Storia prize, Acqui Ambiente prize, "Fiera di San Guido" (second Sunday in July), Sgaiento antiques market (fourth Sunday of every month around Corso Bagni)