The museum, dedicated to the memory of the Sienese scholar Ranuccio Bianchi Bandinelli, is located in the Palazzo Pretorio (or Palace of the Podestà) which, together with the Palazzo del Popolo and the Palazzo dei Priori, stands as a symbol of political power in the Medieval commune of Colle.
The archaeological collection is made up of finds coming exclusively from the local territory. Dating from the Copper Age to the Middle Ages, the artifacts on display demonstrate the important role that the Valdelsa has played over many centuries, thanks to its strategic location along ancient travel and trade routes.
The 15 exhibition rooms pay special attention to the development of Etrsucan society in the Valdelsa in relation to the assertion of political power of the prosperous town of Volterra nearby. Most archaeological finds in the area date back to the Archaic and Hellenistic Periods, as represented by artifacts unearthed at two great necropolises of Le Ville and Dometaia.
The museum contains magnificent burial furnishings found in the tomb of the noble Calisna Sepu family, situated in the Necropolis of Casone (Monteriggioni) which was used between the 4th and 1st centuries B.C. The tomb, where more than 105 artifacts were discovered, counts as one of the most important finds in northern Etruria from the Hellenistic Period in terms of its wealth and of the duration of its use. The burial furnishings include black-glazed vases produced in Volterra, splendid bronze mirrors (one of which shows the engraved scene The Judgment of Paris), and a vast range of ceramic tableware used by the Etruscan artistocracy.
The museum visit concludes with a fascinating exploration of Etruscan women, investigating their daily life and their role in society, and finally with the Gracco del Secco Rooms of Memory, a thought-provoking itinerary through the prison cells of the palazzo, which were in use from the Middle Ages through to 1924.
Well worth visiting is the Parco Archeologico di Dometaia (Dometaia Archaeological Park). Admission is free to this extraordinary Etruscan necropolis.
The Archaeological Museum is a member of the Colle Alta Museums system, along with the San Pietro Museum.