Athens Greece museums and history



Athens museums
Archaeological Sites Museums
National Archaeological Museum

It is the most important archaeological museum in Greece and one of the richest in the world concerning ancient Greek art. Its collections are representative of all the cultures that flourished in Greece. The construction of the museum was begun in 1866 and completed in 1889 with the gradual addition of the west wing in 1874, of the north in 1881, of the south in 1885 and finally, of the east wing. The building was erected in a large plot donated by Helen Tositsa, with the financial support of Demetrios and Nicolaos Vernardakis, the Archaeological Society and the Greek state.  The building of the museum was originally designed by the architect Ludwig Lange but his plans were partially modified by Panages Kalkos and later, by Harmodios Vlachos and Ernst Ziller, who completely rearranged the facade and changed the plan of the east wing and the central hall. Two additions were made on the east side of the building; a new wing was constructed in the early 20th century based on the plans of Anastasios Metaxas and a two-storeyed building, designed by G. Nomikos, was erected in 1932-39. Read more

The Acropolis Museum

It is one of the most important museums in the world. It temporarily houses masterpieces of the ancient Greek civilization, dedicated to the most important of the Athenian sanctuaries, the "temenos" of Athena Parthenos. Preparations for the erection of the New Acropolis Museum have already begun.
Many of the unique works of art that ornamented the Acropolis have been stolen and transferred abroad. The worst plundering of the monuments took place in the beginning of the 19th century by Lord Elgin. Τhe museum was designed by the architect Panages Kalkos and constructed between 1865 and 1874. In the 1950's it was extended towards the east and the exhibition was rearranged by the archaeologist I. Meliades. The museum contains only the stone sculptures from the monuments of the Acropolis and from the excavations on the site. Since the beginning of the excavations, the vases and the bronzes have been kept in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens, while the inscriptions are housed in the Epigraphical Museum. Read more

The New Acropolis Museum

When in 1982 Melina Mercouri, announced that Greece was to seek the return to Athens of the sculptures which Lord Elgin had torn from the Parthenon at the beginning of the l9th century, a small group of British friends of Greece founded the British Committee for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles. From the beginning, we were convinced of two things.
The first was that the way to success was not to try to set up a mass organization, but rather to establish the widest contact with politicians, journalists, academics, writers, lawyers and others who could influence public opinion, and above all, the opinion of Parliament; for only Parliament could return the Marbles to Greece. The second was that our most urgent task was to dispel the cloud of confusion, irrelevance and falsehood which had grown up around the Marbles in the course of two centuries. We have by now, I trust, refuted such hoary lies as that, that Lord Elgin bought the Marbles, or that he had authority from the Ottoman Government to tear down from the Parthenon what the hand of Pheidias had placed there, under the eye of Pericles, and by the order of the Athenian people. We have demonstrated the falsity of such arguments as that if the Marbles are returned, all the great museums of the world will be emptied of their treasures, or that the Marbles are more accessible in London than in Athens - accessible to whom? - or that the Greek nation is incapable of taking care of its artistic heritage. We have drawn attention to the efforts of our predecessors who sought to have the Marbles returned, such as Thomas Hardy, Frederic Harrison, Harold Nicolson, and those Parliamentarians who in 1941 urged that they should be restored to Greece after the war as a token of our gratitude for Greece's contribution to the common struggle against Nazi, aggression.  Read more by Prof. Robert Browning, Emeritus Professor of Classics of the University of London

The Ancient Agora Museum (Stoa of Attalos)

Τhe Agora museum is housed in the Stoa of Attalos, a reconstructed building of around 150 B.C. The characteristic feature of the mseum is that the exhibits are all closely connected with the Athenian Democracy, as the Agora was the focus of the city's public life.
The Stoa of Attalos was discovered during the excavations carried out by the Greek Archaeological Society between 1859 and 1902. In 1953-56 it was reconstructed in order to house the finds from the excavations at the Agora. In 1957 the Greek state assumed responsibility for the administration and security of the museum and the archaeological site.

The Benaki Museum

The Benaki Museum ranks among the great benefactions which have enriched the material assets of the Greek state. At the same time, it is the oldest museum in Greece, which functions as a Foundation under Private Law.
Through its extensive collections covering several different cultural fields, as well as its more general range of activities which serve more than one social need, the Benaki Museum is perhaps the sole instance of a complex structure within the wider network of museum foundations in Greece.
This group of collections comprises many distinct categories totalling more than 30.000 items illustrating the character of the Greek world through a spectacular historical panorama: from antiquity and the age of Roman domination to the medieval Byzantine period, from the fall of Constantinople (1453) and the centuries of Frankish and Ottoman occupation to the outbreak of the struggle for independence in 1821, and from the formation of the modern state of Greece (1830) down to 1922, the year in which the Asia Minor disaster took place.
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The Byzantine and Christian Museum

The Byzantine Museum was founded in 1914. From 1930 on it has been housed in the "Ilisia" mansion, which belonged to the Duchess of Placentia and was built in 1848 by the architect Stamatis Kleanthes. It was transformed into a museum by the architect Aristotle Zachos. Today an addition is being made and a large extension with basement and buildings in part above ground. The architectural design is by Manos Perrakis. The collections of the Byzantine Museum show the course of Greek art from the 4th to the 19th century. They comprise sculptural works, paintings and small works of all sorts. These works represent the artistic production of the Greek area, and other regions both central and peripheral of the Byzantine empire and subsequently of Hellenism on into post-Byzantine times. Read more

The Cycladic Art Museum, N.P. Goulandris Foundation

The Museum of Cycladic Art was founded in 1986 in order to house the collection of Cycladic and Ancient Greek art belonging to Nicholas and Aikaterini Goulandris. A new building was designed and erected for that purpose in the centre of Athens, on 4 Neophytou Douka Str. Since 1991 the Museum has acquired a new wing, the magnificent neo-classical Stathatos House on the corner of Vassilissis Sophias and Herodotou Streets. The Nicholas P. Goulandris Foundation, to which Dolly Goulandris donated the collection in 1985, is dedicated to the study and promotion of Aegean Studies, and Cycladic culture in particular. The exhibition at the Museum of Cycladic Art, and the temporary exhibitions organised every year, reflect these interests. Read more

The Museum of Greek Folk Art

The Museum of Greek Folk Art belongs to the state and comes under the Ministry of Culture. It was founded in 1918 under the name "Museum of Greek Handicrafts" and was housed in the Tzami. In 1923 it was renamed the "National Museum of Decorative Arts"; it was given its present name in 1959. Anna Apostolaki was the director of the Museum of Greek Folk Art from1935 to 1953. From 1956 until 1980 it was under the direction of Popi Zora. Until 1973 the Museum was housed in the Tzami in Monastiraki Square. Its main functions were then transferred to the building at Kydathinaion 17 in Plaka. There are Museum Annexes in the Tzami, where the "V. Kyriazopoulos Collection of Folk Pottery" is now housed, the building at Kyrrestou 8, known as the "Baths of Athena", and the building at Thespidos 8 in Plaka. Read more

The Jewish Museum of Greece

The Jewish Museum of Greece was founded in 1977 in order to collect, conserve, research and exhibit the material evidence of 2,300 years of Jewish life in Greece. Being a historical and ethnographic museum, the focus of its attention lies in the presentation of a vivid picture of Jewish history and tradition throughout this period.

Its collection, which is constantly being augmented, consists of seven and a half thousand original artifacts, photographs, documents and archives, and includes diverse material pertaining to the domestic and religious life, as well as the historical course of the Greek Jews. Read more


The National Historical Museum

The National Historical Museum belongs to The Historical and Ethnological Society of Greece (HESG), which was founded in 1882 for the purpose of collecting, saving and presenting relics and documentary evidence relating to modern Greek history. It is the oldest museum of its kind and it includes rich collections, which highlight the most representative phases of Neo-Hellenism, from the fall of Constantinople (15th Century) on. The National Historical Museum is also a research centre for Modern Greek History. Read more


Athens has a large number of museums. For more information please visit the official site of the Greek Ministry of Culture



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