The National Archaeological Museum of Athens is the largest archaeological museum in Greece and one of the most important museums in the world devoted to ancient Greek art. It was founded at the end of the 19th century to house and protect antiquities from all over Greece, thus displaying their historical, cultural and artistic value.
In its galleries can be traced the long evolution of ancient Greek culture. The Museum’s Collections –Prehistoric, Sculpture, Vases and the Minor Arts, Bronze, and Egyptian Antiquities– are amongst the most comprehensive in the world. The Prehistoric Collection consists of unique works of art representing the major civilisations that flourished in the Aegean. It includes objects from the Neolithic period and the Bronze Age, from mainland Greece, the Aegean islands and Troy. The most important exhibits are the treasures from the royal tombs at Mycenae, the famous Cycladic marble figurines, and the superbly preserved wall-paintings from Thera with their large-scale compositions.
The Sculpture Collection presents the development of ancient Greek sculpture. The sculptures comprising it, many of which are masterpieces and landmarks in the history of art, come from Athens and other parts of Greece –Thessaly, central Greece, Peloponnese, Crete, and the Aegean islands. The Collection contains some of the largest groups of original sculptures in the world.
The great quantity and quality of the Geometric pottery, the early black-figure vases from Vari, and the whiteground lekythoi and red-figure vases of the 4th c. BC, make this Collection one of the richest in the world. The exhibits come from excavations in cemeteries, such as the Kerameikos and that at Vari, and in sanctuaries like those of Hera at Argos and Perachora, of Artemis Orthia at Sparta, the sanctuaries on the Athenian Acropolis, and the Kabeirion at Thebes. The Bronze Collection is one of the largest in the world. It is famous mainly for its unique, large-scale original statues, such as the Poseidon or Zeus from Artemision, the Marathon youth, the Antikythera youth, and the jockey from Artemision, and also for smaller pieces such as the mechanism from Antikythera, figurines and vases. The majority of the bronzes were dedications in the major Greek sanctuaries.