The idea of the modern museum dates to about 1788 when Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo Lorraine first promoted the idea of “a school of taste” for the education of future artists. In Prato, the museum finally opened in 1858 near the town hall. Today, a rich art collection traces both the history and art of Prato. The museum boasts paintings and drawings that range from the 14th to the 19th century; sculptures by the Della Robbia family and the Pratese artist Lorenzo Bartolini are found here, not to mention a significant collection of minor arts including 18th-century ceramics and 19th-century armor and costumes. Both the Town Hall Picture Gallery and the Emperor's Castle are part of the Municipal Museum. The Picture Gallery's exhibit is dedicated to portraiture, while that of the Emperor's Castle evokes the history of the building through models, sculptures and visual texts.
The museum offers a wide range of educational activities, including school programs, multimedia for adults and a fully reconstructed, three-dimensional medieval town that allows visitors to explore both the exterior and interior of its buildings.