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.
The Museum building, a protected monument in itself, was founded in 1866 on a plot donated by Eleni Tositsa. Its construction was based on designs by the architects Ludwig Lange and Panagi Kalkos. The final form of its facade was the work of Ernst Ziller, who also supervised the work until 1889, when the west wing was completed. The present building took form gradually in the 20th century with a series of additions on the east side.
The collection and protection of antiquities was one of the first and foremost concerns of the newly founded Greek state, which set up its first museum on Aegina in 1829. However, when the capital of the Modern Greece was transferred from Nauplion to Athens, where the concentration of ancient temples and public buildings had led to the creation of notable collections, the need to establish a Central Museum for Antiquities became imperative.