Located in Madrid, Spain, the National Archaeological Museum of Spain offers a variety of exhibits related to the social and cultural history of Spain and displays significant cultural artifacts preserved or uncovered within the country.
The National Archaeological Museum of Spain was founded by Queen Isabella II as part of a European trend in the mid-19th century of creating official museums to display countries’ social and cultural histories. The museum was housed within the Casino de la Reina country estate from its 1867 opening until 1893, when it was moved to a new facility constructed by architect Francisco Jareño. The museum reopened at its new permanent facility, a Neoclassical-style structure, in 1895. Major renovations were completed on the building in 1968, substantially increasing the museum’s exhibit space. In 2008, the museum was closed for several years for major renovations and remodelling, creating enlarged public areas and more accessible, rationally-distributed exhibit space. The museum reopened to the public in April of 2014, with exhibits redesigned to focus on the archaeological aspects of its holdings rather than on decorative displays.
Permanent Exhibits and Collections
Today, the National Archaeological Museum of Spain serves as the premiere repository for archaeological and cultural artifacts in Spain, showcasing a variety of objects with artistic, social, or historical value uncovered or preserved within the country. More than 750,000 visitors have attended the museum annually since its 2014 renovation, a marked increase over its previous annual visitorship of 200,000. The museum is located within a Neoclassical-style building next to the Plaza de Colón and shares its facilities with Spain’s National Library.
The museum holds a large number of archaeological collections, which are accessible to the public in electronic format through an online catalogue developed by Spain’s Ministry of Culture. Major collections include a Prehistory Collection, which features notable items dating from the Paleolithic period through the first millennium B.C. Collection holdings include goldsmithing bowls from the Late Bronze Age, Bell-Beaker pottery from ancient Madrid, and basket molds and woven grass found in Granada’s Cave of Los Murciélagos. A Protohistory Collection showcases items from the Early Iron Age and the country’s Romanisation, including collections of gold and silver objects from the Iberian, Celtiberian, Tartessian, Phoenician, and Vaccaei cultures. A Hispano-Roman Collection contains everyday and valuable items dating between the first century B.C. and the fifth century A.D., including Latin inscription stone epigraphy and sculptures of figures from the Roman Empire. A Middle Ages Collection showcases items from the fourth through 15th centuries A.D., while a Modern Era Collection features items dating from the mid-15th century through the present day. Special collections of items from Egypt, the Near East, and Greece are also held, along with one of the most prominent Numismatics collections in the world, showcasing more than 300,000 coins and money-related artifacts.
Exhibits at the museum include an Archaeology and Heritage introductory exhibit, which offers museum visitors an overview of cultural evolution and archaeological methodology. A Prehistory exhibit chronicles the evolution of human culture on the Iberian Peninsula, detailing life in the Neolithic, Chalcolithic, and Bronze Ages, while a Protohistory exhibit chronicles the changes the peninsula experienced following the arrival of the Phoenicians. History from the first millennium B.C. onward is outlined in the Roman Hispania, Late Antiquity, and Medieval World exhibits, with an emphasis on the impact of the Roman Empire’s rise and fall and the arrival of Arabs on the peninsula in 711 A.D. Political unification of the Habsburg and Bourbon Dynasties is detailed in The Modern Era, which concludes with documentation of the museum’s founding. The museum’s modern development is chronicled in The Repository of Our Past: The National Archaeological Museum. Special exhibit areas focusing on other cultures include an Ancient Near East exhibit, a Nile: Egypt and Nubia exhibit, and a Greece exhibit. Major coin and monetary collections are also showcased in the Coins: Much More Than Money exhibit.
In addition to major exhibit areas, the Library of the National Archaeological Museum, located in an 1,100-square-meter space on the museum’s fourth floor, offers a wide variety of volumes and documents related to the country’s cultural and social history. Access to the library is available for all visitors with a national Spain ID card, a passport, or other equivalent identifying documentation. A coffee shop is offered in the museum’s lobby, serving casual breakfast and lunch fare, and a bookstore sells a wide variety of books, multimedia items, jewelry, and souvenirs.
Ongoing Programs and Education
In addition to standard visitor admission, group tours may be scheduled for small groups and organizations, including curriculum-incorporated field trip opportunities for upper primary, secondary, and high school students. Educational tours may be tailored around museum sections and topics depending on classroom needs. A variety of family activities are offered, including open and self-guided workshops within the museum’s activities room. Public special events offered throughout the year include a lecture series, book signings, public courses and workshops, concerts, and theatrical performances.
Calle de Serrano, 13, 28001 Madrid, Spain, Phone: +0034-9-15-77-79-12
More Madrid Things to Do