The construction of the original nucleus of the Bishop's Palace, located between the Baptistery, the Cathedral and the ancient churc of San Michele (probably longobard) dates back to the foundation of the Episcopal Castrum in the year 900 by the Bishop Azzo, to defend against barbaric invasions.
From the thirteenth century it was rebuilt and expanded and then devastated by fires both in 1289 and in 1374 as a result of which it was abandoned the use of the bishopric and rented as an inn.
Some of the rest of the 200 structure can be seen in a lodge opening in the main floor and a buffered ocular, today visible in the room of the episcopal archive.
The episcopal headquarter was brought back to the city centre in 1477 with the election as bishop of Bonfrancesco Arlotti from Reggio; from here it begins to expand and update the architectural structure of the palace, always in relation to his roman living room in one of the most important courts of the Renaissance, that of Pope Sixtus IV.
Intially the palace was enlarged between the Baptistery and the Cathedral, which were united in a single body of factory (the current acade is of the 1878).
These works create the modification of the apsidal part of the Baptistery, of which an illusionistic one, reintegration, can be represented by the architectural background of the fresco of the Baptism of Christ, painted around 1497 by Francesco Caprioli from Reggio with the probable participation of Cesare Cesariano as regards the architectural part; one of the first adhesions of Reggio to the new Renaissance language. It is perhaps attributable to Cesariano himself the renovation of the apsidal area of the Cathedral, another point of the building program of the Arlotti, completed between 1502 and 1508.
These are three halls located on the ground floor of the Bishop's Palace "Estense" - built by Bartolomeo Avanzini in the mid-seventeenth century - with the exhibition and large rooms on the top floor of the building, also intended to house the collections "Don Cesare Salami" and "Don Archimede Guasti" and some donations received by the Diocese, together with a room intended to permanently host an anthology of works by the artist Marco Gerra from Reggio. To these spaces will be added as soon as possible the suggestive environment known - perhaps not correctly - as "Coccapani Chapel". The choice of the Bishop's Palace as a museum goes back a long time. Since the 1930s, the will of authoritative personalities of the Curia of Reggio to collect what was of particular artistic interest tr at risk of dispersion among the assets of the diocese for exhibition purposes in the desired Ecclesiastical Museum has been recorded. A first implantation of sacred works and furnishings was carried out in the rooms of the bishop's apartment in 1994 and it was available until 2000, when the earthquake made the wing of the Episcope that housed the path unusable.