Lonely Planet Writer

Athens’ National Archaeological Museum celebrates 150th anniversary

This year the National Archaeological Museum  in Athens is celebrating 150 years since its foundation. While the anniversary is on 3 October, various exhibitions have been held throughout the year including thematic presentations by archaeologists and familiarisation workshops by the museum’s curators.

National Archaeological Museum, Athens.
National Archaeological Museum, Athens. Image by George Rex / CC BY 2.0

Notable exhibitions have included  the ‘Unseen Museum’ (offering insight into storerooms where statues, jewellery, vessels and various other everyday objects await to be discovered) and ‘Strolling through the Athens of Travellers: 17th-19th centuries’ (a fictitious walk highlighting Athens topography as seen through the eyes of European travellers during the days of the romantic Grand Tour to the Greek capital).

The main commemorative exhibition, which opens on 3 October, is called ‘Odysseys’. It presents the museum’s unique collections, from the Neolithic period to classical periods, celebrating the topics of human survival, development, knowledge and happiness.

The museum’s foundation was first announced in 1866 by the Chief Guard of Antiquities Zissis Sotiriou, one of the fighters of the independence war of 1821. Today, the National Archaeological Museum is one of the world’s most important museums and it houses the world’s finest collection of Greek antiquities, with more than 11,000 exhibits that include sculptures, pottery, jewellery, frescoes and other artefacts from all over Greece.


Aphrodite and Pan, National Archaeological Museum, Athens.
Aphrodite and Pan, National Archaeological Museum, Athens. Image by Jay Bergesen / CC BY 2.0

There are six permanent collections: the Collection of Prehistoric Antiquities  (Neolithic, Cycladic, Mycenaean); the Sculptures Collection (ancient Greek sculpture from the 7th to the 5th centuries BC); the Vase and Minor Objects Collection (ancient Greek pottery from the 11th century BC to the Roman period); the Bronze (Metalwork) Collection; the Egyptian and Near Eastern Antiquities Collection; and the Collection of Cypriot Antiquities.