The museum was founded by Frederick Stibbert (1836 - 1906), who was born into a huge inheritance from his grandfather and did not work for the rest of his life. Instead of working, Frederick Stibbert dedicated his life to collecting various objects, antiques, and artifacts and turned his villa into a museum. When the size of the collections outgrew the villa, Stibbert hired architect Giuseppe Poggi, painter Gaetano Bianchi and sculptor Passaglia to add on rooms. In 1906, when Stibbert died, his collection was given to the city of Florence and was opened to the public.
The villa has 57 rooms that exhibit all of Stibbert's collections from around the world. Most of the walls are covered in leather and tapestries and the rooms are crowded with artifacts. Paintings are displayed throughout every room, including still lifes and portraits. There is also valuable furniture, porcelains, Tuscan crucifixes, Etruscan artifacts, and an outfit worn by Napoleon I of France. It also contains around 12,000 pieces of European, Oriental, Islamic, Japanese arms and armour from the 15th century through the 19th century. The Cavalcade room is a grand hall filled with 14th-16th century knights on horseback and 14 foot soldiers dressed in armour and holding weapons. The collection of Samurai armour contains over 80 suits and hundreds of swords.
The museum is open Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 10-14, and on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10-18. Closed on Thursday.