The definition of ”Masterpiece” is a work of outstanding artistry, skill, or workmanship. The National Archaeology Museum in Athens is full of masterpieces but the museum itself is a masterpiece on its own. This centrally located museum houses the largest collection of Ancient Greek art, antiquities and artifacts in Greece! For myself, it is true bliss to visit a museum that preserves and protects the largest collection of their own past civilizations. I admire that so many of Greece’s priceless treasures have stayed in their homeland and in this museum, for generations to learn from and enjoy.
A fraction of the world’s population has seen authentic (non-replica) Greek art and antiquities in museums outside of Greece, which is a wonderful thing. For many that may be the only time they will ever view masterpieces from the ancient Greek civilization. If you are wanting to stretch your knowlege of Ancient Greece and find yourself in Athens, this national museum is a ‘Must Do’. In either situation of viewing Greek artifacts, if you have viewed one or one hundred consider yourself very lucky!
The current building of the National Archaeology Museum is over one hundred years old and was completed in 1889. It was designed with the “popular at the time” neo-classical architecture. You may have seen this architectural style of buildings scattered throughout Europe as it became popular by the Mid-1800s. Over the years the museum’s building was expanded to house a greater collection of Greek artifacts.
As with many global museums, works of art and masterpieces were hidden during WWII so they would not be destroyed or stolen. Greece’s National Archaeology Museum was no exception during the years of WWII. All of their priceless artifacts were sealed in protective boxes and buried. Whenever I hear stories of people saving works of art during the uncertain times of war, I am completely humbled. It would be a different world today if they had not risked their lives to preserve priceless pieces of culture, during a time of violence.
Visiting the National Archaeology Museum can be overwhelming as their massive collection dates back to 1500 BC Prehistoric era and also contains many Egyptian artifacts . My advice is to dedicate a certain time frame of your day to visit the museum and view the collections that appeal to you. If you have time you can always go back and visit more of the museum. This is a grand museum and I will admit that I did get lost a couple of times! Just remember to pick up a museum map when you pay for your ticket in the front hall.
When I visited in the Fall of 2019, I spent time viewing several of my favorite collections including the sculptures, metal works, vases and minor works. I also enjoyed the prehistoric era as I usually do in archaeology or art museums. To view preserved pieces of artwork made by primitive tools and from natural materials, always activates my imagination with so many images and questions. What did these people look like? What was there purpose- religious reasons or decorations? All of it is amazing to think about, don’t you agree?
My advice is to get to the National Archaeology Museum before or when it opens. Actually that is my advice for any major museum! Sometimes if you get to a museum 10 minutes prior, the line will already be long depending on the time of year. There are class trips that visit the National Archaeology Museum during the year, so be prepared for crowds. It will be the same for high season and weekends. If you arrive early, more than likely you will be able to enjoy some museum quiet time.
Visit their official website to view their collections, take note what appeals to you and plan your day.
Transportation: Since the museum is centrally located in Athens, there are many ways to get there- walk, taxi, metro, electric train, bus, etc. As for myself, I took the Hop on Hop off Bus that dropped off/picked up in front of the museum.
For more information on ticketing, hours, disability access, group visits, etc please check go to the official National Archaeology Museum website
📸 All photos are taken by me and are my intellectual property