Starting from the 1970s the building that houses the museum, designed by architect E. Magnani, was built with funds from the Cassa per il Mezzogiorno (Fund for the South) that also financed the purchase of the furniture still in use. The project was based on the idea to create the “Museum of Tharros” to accommodate, in a place next to the Punic-Roman city, the materials recovered during the extensive excavations conducted in previous decades by Superintendent Gennaro Pesce. However, over the years the decision to display the rich archaeological finds of the Sinis Peninsula has prevailed, increased by new discoveries and new excavations, in a chronological overview from prehistory to the Middle Ages.
The building was officially inaugurated on 28 Decembre 1997 with the permanent exhibition of the archaeological finds from Cuccuru Is Arrius and Tharros. New sections were later included to illustrate the history of the site of the Nuraghe Sa Osa (2014), the shipwreck of the Island of Mal di Ventre (2008) and the Sulis and Pulix Collections (2010). On 22 March 2014 a special exhibition was inaugurated including a selection of male statues and models of nuraghe coming from the nuragic necropolis of Mont’e Prama, pending enlargement into a newly-built hall to show all the statuary complex to be inaugurated in the near future. The director Giovanni Tore set up and hosted numerous exhibitions dedicated to different aspects of the history and culture of the area (1982-1997). After the inauguration special exhibitions were set up by the scientific staff of the Museum or realized through the collaboration with other organizations or associations; cultural choices often have privileged issues concerning territory, mainly from the archaeological, but from the environmental and historical-documentary, point of view as well.
The temporary exhibitions, usually accompanied by other cultural events (study meetings, conferences, presentations of books), were made primarily on the basis of a more effective divulgation of the latest scientific research on the territory. Among these can be remembered:
– Tharros e il Sinis in età antica e ricerche archeologiche nell’Oristanese (19 April – 9 May 1982).
– Il Sinis in età antica e ricerche archeologiche nell’Oristanese (28 July – 28 August 1983).
– Cartagine in Sardegna. Mostra documentaria e fotografica nel XXVIII centenario della fondazione di Cartagine (1-21 December 1986).
– Gli albori di un’isola (11 November – 1 December 1990).
– L’arte delle domus de janas (October 1994).
– La Collezione Sulis di Oristano (1996).
– I Tesori del Passato. Collezionismo antiquario tharrense. Mostra della Collezione Archeologica del Seminario Arcivescovile di Oristano (19 February – 30 August 1997).
– Documentary exhibition Le radici ritrovate. 250 anni di storia nelle carte restaurate dell’archivio comunale di Cabras (3 October 1998 – 1 November 1998) (conception and set up by Superintendency of Archives of Sardinia).
– Abitare il Sinis: “Dalla barracca alla domu” (22 December 2001 – 27 January 2002) (by M. Manca Cossu, A. Loche et alii, Italia Nostra).
– Documentary exhibition Barbare cose sardesche. Archeologia tra erudizione ed esplorazione nella Sardegna ottocentesca (26 August – 30 September 2005).
– Gente di Tharros. Gli scavi di Tharros dall’800 agli anni ’60. Immagini e documenti (at the tower of S. Giovanni di Sinis, 1 August 2002 – December 2004).
– In piscosissimo mari. Il mare e le sue risorse tra antichità e tradizione (11 February – 30 June 2006).
The structure was dedicated to Giovanni Marongiu, a Minister of the Italian Republic born in Cabras and a great supporter and promoter of the museum project, with an official ceremony which took place on 30 October 1998.