Among the few examples of house-museums in Naples, the Pignatelli Museum includes: the Villa with the Ancient Apartment on the ground floor and in some rooms on the first floor, the first floor rooms which house the Home of Photography, the Carriage and housing Museum on the ground floor of Rothschild apartment and the garden.
In 1826 Ferdinando Acton commissioned the Neapolitan architect Pietro Valente to design the villa while the furnishings and the garden were entrusted to Guglielmo Bechi. When Acton died in 1841, the house was sold to the banker Carl Mayer von Rothschild whose monogram CR can still be seen on the first floor.
The villa was used as an oratory by the Jewish community until 1867 when it was sold to Prince Diego Aragona Pignatelli Cortes who had picturesque historicist buildings constructed in the park such as the Swiss chalet and the neo-gothic tower. The roof of the portico, the alterations to the interior and the furniture were commissioned by his nephew Diego who moved to the villa with his wife in 1897.
The magnificent furniture was made especially for the rooms of the apartment and reinterpreted styles that had been fashionable in the last three decades of the nineteenth century. In 1952 Princess Rosina left the villa to the state so that “no object could be removed to become part of other collections”.