- National Archaeological Museum of Athens
name = National Archaeological Museum of Athens
imagesize = 200
established = 1829
Patission Avenue, Athens, Greece
type = National museum
Athens Metrostations: Viktoria station, Omonoia station
website = [http://odysseus.culture.gr/h/1/eh151.jsp?obj_id=3249 Official website]
The National Archaeological Museum of Athens ( _el. Εθνικό Αρχαιολογικό Μουσείο) in
Athenshouses some of the most important artifacts from a variety of archaeological locations around Greecefrom prehistoryto late antiquity. It is considered one of the great museums in the world and contains the richest collection of artifacts from the Greek antiquity worldwide. [ [http://odysseus.culture.gr/h/1/eh151.jsp?obj_id=3249 Hellenic Ministry of Culture | National Archaeological Museum ] ] It is situated in the Exarhia area in central Athensbetween the streets Epirus, Bouboulinaand Tositsaswhile its entrance is on the Patission Avenueadjacent to the historical building of the Athens Polytechnic.
The first national archaeological museum in Greece was established by
prime minister of Greece Ioannis Kapodistriasin Aiginain 1829. Since then the archaeological collection has been moved to a number of exhibition places until 1858, when an international architectural competition was announced for the location and the architectural design of the new museum.The National Archaeological Museum (2000) Euangelia Kypraiou Archaeological Receipts Fund Direction of Publications, Athens Greece]
The current location was proposed and the construction of the museum's building began in 1866 and was completed in 1889 using funds from the
Greek Government, the Greek Archaeological Societyand the society of Mycenae. Major benefactors were Eleni Tositsawho donated the land for the building of the museum, Demetrios and Nikolaos Vernardakisfrom Saint Petersburgwho donated a large amount for the completion of the museum.
The initial name for the museum was" The Central Museum" and it was renamed to its current name in 1881 by
Prime Minister of Greece Charilaos Trikoupis. In 1887the prominent archaeologist Valerios Staisbecomes the museums curator.During the World War IIthe museum was closed and the antiquities were sealed in special protective boxes and buried, in order to avoid their destruction and looting. In 1945 exhibits were again displayed under the direction of Christos Karouzos.The south wing of the museum houses the EpigraphicMuseum with the richest collection of inscriptions in the world. The inscriptions museum expanded between 1953–1960 with the architectural designs of Patroklos Karantinos. [http://www.cityofathens.gr/portal/site/AthensPortal/menuitem.d11c8c76b66cf1c27d4139c3500000a0/indexbb64.html]
The museum has an imposing
neo-classicaldesign which was very popular in Europeat the time and is in full accordance with the classical style artifacts that it houses. The initial plan was conceived by the architect Ludwig Lange and it was later modified by Panages Kalkoswho was the main architect, Harmodios Vlachosand Ernst Ziller. At the front of the museum there is a large neo-classicdesign garden which is decorated with sculptures.
Expansions and renovations
The building has undergone many expansions. Most important were the construction of new east wing in the early 20th century based on the plans of
Anastasios Metaxasand the erection of a two-storeyed building, designed by George Nomikos, in 1932-1939. These expansions were necessary to accommodate the rapidly expanding collection of artifacts. The most recent refurbishment of the museum took more than 1.5 years to complete, during which the museum remained completely closed. It reopened in July 2004, in time for the Athens Olympics and it included aesthetic and technical upgrade of the building, installation of a modern air-conditioning system, reorganisation of the museum's collection and repair of the damage that the 1999 earthquakeleft to the building. The Minoan frescoes rooms opened to the public in 2005. [ [http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/news/content.asp?aid=57554 ekathimerini.com | National Archaeological Museum ] ] On May 2008 the Culture Minister Mihalis Liapis inaugurated the much anticipated collection of Egyptian antiquities and the collection of Eleni and Antonis Stathatos. [ [http://www.ana.gr/anaweb/user/showplain?maindoc=6433001&maindoc
| Egyptian antiquities exhibition] ] . Today, there is a renewed discussion regarding the need to further expand the museum to adjacent areas. A new plan has been put forward for a subterranean expansion at the front of the museum.
The museum's collections are organised in sections: [Sculpture in the National Archaeological Museum, Athens (2002) Nikolaos Kaltsas Getty Trust Publications: J. Paul Getty Museum, California USA]
Prehistoriccollection ( Neolithic, Cycladic, Mycenaean)
Vaseand Minor ObjectsCollection
Near EasternAntiquities Collection
The prehistoric collection displays objects from the
Neolithicera (6800-3000 BC), Early and Mid- Bronze age(3000-2000 BC and 2000 to 1700 BC respectively), objects classified as Cycladicand Myceneanart.
Neolithic era and early and mid-Bronze age collection
There are ceramic finds from various important Neolithic sites such as
Diminiand Sesclofrom middle Helladicceramics from Boeotia, Atticaand Phthiotis. Some objects from Heinrich Schliemannexcavations in Troyare also on display.
Cycladic art collection
Cycladic collection features the famous marble figurines from the
Aegeanislands of Delosand Kerosincluding the "Lutist". These mysterious human representations that resemble so much modern art and inspired many artists like Henry Moore[Early cycladic sculpture: its aesthetics and its influences on Henry Moore and Constantin BrancusiDEB Lercher - 1979 - State University of New York at Binghamton ] came from the 3rd millennium BC old cemeteries of Aegean islands along with bronze tools and containers.
Mycenean art collection
Mycenean civilization is represented by stone,bronze and ceramic pots, figurines, ivory, glass and faience obejcts, golden seals and rings from the vaulted tombs in Mycenae and other locations in the Peloponnese (
Tirynsand Dendrain Argolis, Pylosin Messiniaand Vaphioin Lakonia). Of great interest are the two golden cups from Vafeio showiung a scene of the capture of a bull.
Heinrich Schliemann finds
Mycenean collection includes also the magnificent 16th century finds of
Heinrich Schliemannin Mycenaefrom the circle A graves and the much earlier circle B graves. Most notable are the golden funerary masks covering the faces ofthe deceased Mycenean leaders. Among them, the most famous is the one that was named erroneously as the mask of Agamemnon.There are also finds from the citadel of Mycenaeincluding relief stelae, golden containers, glass, alabaster and amber tools and jewels. Other highlights are a group in ivory showing two goddesses with a child, a painted limestone head of a goddess and the famous warrior's vase dating from the 12th century.
Egyptian Art collection
Egyptiancollection dates back to the last twenty years of the 19th century, while it is worthy to note the donation of the Egyptian government which in 1893 offered nine mummies of the era of the Pharaohs. However, the Egyptian collection is mainly by two donors, Ioannis Dimitriou (in 1880) and of Alexandros Rostovic (in 1904). In total the collection includes more than 6000 artefacts. However today only 1100 of them are available for the public. The collection is considered to be one of the best collections of Egyptian artin the world.The exhibition features rare statues, tools, jewels, mummies, a wooden body tag for a mummy, a stunning bronze statue of a princess, intact bird eggs and a 3000-year-old loaf of bread with a bite-sized chunk missing. The exhibition centrepiece is a bronze statue of the princess-priestess Takushit, dating to around 670 BC. Standing 70cm high and wearing a gown covered in hieroglyphs, the statue was found south of Alexandriain 1880. [ [http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/2/story.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=10510179- Priceless ancient Egyptian relics go on display] ]
Stathatos collection took its name by the donors and major Greek benefactors Antonis and Eleni Stathatos. The collection features about 1000 objects mainly jewels as well as metal objects, vases and pottery from the Middle
Bronze Ageto post- Byzantineera. Its highlights are the Hellenistic periodgolden jewels from Karpenissiand Thessaly.
Artists and artefacts
Some of the ancient artists whose work is presented in the museum are
Myron, Scopas, Euthymides, Lydos, Agoracritus, Agasias, Pan Painter, Wedding Painter, Meleager Painter, Cimon of Cleonae, Nessos Painter, Damophon, Aison (vase painter), Analatos Painter, Polygnotos (vase painter), Hermonax.
sculpturework, Loutrophoros, amphora, Hydria, Skyphos, Krater, Pelike, and lekythosvessels, Stele, frescoes, jewellery, weapons, tools, coins, toysand other ancient items.
Artefacts derive from archaeological excavations in
Santorini, Mycenae, Tiryns, Dodona, Vaphio, Rhamnous, Lycosura, Aegean islands, Delos, the Temple of Aphaeain Aegina, the Sanctuary of Artemis Orthiain Sparta, Pylos, Thebes, Athens, the Antikythera wreckand from various other places across Greece.
The museum houses the archaic terracota statuette
daidalathat inspired the designers of the 2004 Athens Olympics maskots Athena and Phevos.
Two of the newest exhibits of the museum include a 4th century BCE golden funenary wreath and a 6th century BCE marble statue of a woman, which were returned as stolen artifacts to Greece in 2007 by the
Getty Museumin California, after a 10 year-old legal dispute between the Getty Centerand the Greek Government. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6505971.stm BBC NEWS | Europe | Ancient wreath returns to Greece ] ] One year earlier, the Los Angelesfoundation agreed to return a 4th century BCE tombstonefrom near Thebes and a 6th century BCE votive relief from the island of Thassos. [ [http://www.cbc.ca/arts/artdesign/story/2007/07/09/greece-antiquities-smuggling.html CBC.ca Arts - Greece closes net on antiquities smuggling ] ]
Mask of Agamemnon
Poseidon of Cape Artemision
Aphrodite of Cnidus
Kourosand Kore (sculpture)
*Wall frescoes from
The Lutistfrom Keros
Aphrodite and Panfrom Delos
Poseidon of Milos
The Harp Playerfrom Keros
Rhytonin the shape of a bull head
Statue of a Nereid
Jockey of Artemision
Library of archaeology
The museum houses a 118 year old library of archeology with rare ancient art, science and philosophy books and publications. The library holds some 20,000 volumes, including rare editions dating to the 17th century. [ [http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_politics_100030_10/07/2007_85498 ekathimerini.com | Rare tomes ] ] The bibliography covers
Archaeology, History, Arts, ancient religionsand ancient Greek philosophy, as well as Ancient Greek and Latin literature. Of particular value are the diaries of various excavations incluning those of Heinrich Schliemann. The collection of archaeology books is the richest of its kind in Greece. The Library is has been recently renovated with funds from the Alexander S. Onassis Foundation. Its renovation was completed in 26 May 2008 and is now named after Alexander Onassis. [ [http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_politics_100020_09/07/2007_85456 ekathimerini.com | This Week ] ]
*Photographic archive and chemistry laboratories
*Organises temporary exhibitions in the museum and abroad
*Hosts a large number of archaeology related lectures in its lecture-hall annually.
The museum is easily accessible with the
Athens metro. It is five minute walk from Viktoria stationand a ten minute walk from Omonoia station. Access is free for children up to 6 year old and students. The museum houses a large recently renovated gift shop with artifact replicas and a popular cafe for tourists in the sculpture garden. The museum is fully wheelchair accessible. There are also facilities and guides for hearing impaired visitors.
List of museums in Greece
Art in Ancient Greece
Ancient Greek sculpture
Pottery of ancient Greece
Typology of Greek Vase Shapes
Greek Terracotta Figurines
Ancient Greek technology and innovation
* [http://odysseus.culture.gr/h/1/eh151.jsp?obj_id=3249 National Archaeological Museum of Athens] on the website of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture of Greece.
* [http://tec.uno.edu/NOCTIITE/greece/Images/Athens/NMArtifacts.html Artifacts in the National Museum of Archaeology Photographs of Richard Speaker Greece, 2000]
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