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National Archaeological Museum (Madrid)

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National Archaeological Museum
Museo Arqueológico Nacional
Interactive fullscreen map
EstablishedMarch 20, 1867; 156 years ago (1867-03-20)
LocationCalle de Serrano, 13, Madrid, Spain
Coordinates40°25′25.122″N 3°41′21.919″W / 40.42364500°N 3.68942194°W / 40.42364500; -3.68942194
TypeArchaeology museum
Visitors499,300 (2019)[1]
DirectorAndrés Carretero Pérez
Official nameMuseo Arqueológico Nacional
Reference no.RI-51-0001373

The National Archaeological Museum (Spanish: Museo Arqueológico Nacional; MAN) is a museum in Madrid, Spain. It is located on Calle de Serrano beside the Plaza de Colón, sharing its building with the National Library of Spain.


The museum was founded in 1867 by a Royal Decree of Isabella II as a depository for numismatic, archaeological, ethnographical and decorative art collections of the Spanish monarchs. The establishment of the museum was predated by a previous unmaterialised proposal by the Royal Academy of History in 1830 to create a museum of antiquities.[2]

Laying of the first stone of the building destined for the National Archaeological Museum and the National Library in 1866

The museum was originally located in the Embajadores district of Madrid. In 1895, it moved to a building designed specifically to house it, a neoclassical design by architect Francisco Jareño, built from 1866 to 1892. In 1968, renovation and extension works considerably increased its area. The museum closed for renovation in 2008 and reopened in April 2014.[3]

Following a restructuring of the collection in the 1940s, its former pieces relative to the section of American Ethnography were transferred to the Museum of the Americas, while other pieces from abroad were destined to the National Museum of Ethnography and to the National Museum of Decorative Arts.[4]

Its current collection is based on pieces from the Iberian Peninsula, from Prehistory to Early-Modern Age. However, it also has different collections coming from outside of Spain, especially from Ancient Greece, both from the metropolitan and, above all, from Magna Graecia, and, to a lesser extent, from Ancient Egypt, in addition to "a small number of pieces" from Near East.[5]

Permanent exhibition

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In the forecourt is a replica of the Cave of Altamira from the 1960s. Photogrammetry was used to reproduce the famous paintings on a mould of the original cave. The replica cave is related to an exhibit at the Deutsches Museum in Munich.[6]

Main building

Visitors enter the building at basement level, and pass to the prehistory section.


The halls devoted to the Protohistory of the Iberian Peninsula (1st floor) exhibit pieces from a number of Pre-Roman peoples existing roughly along the 1st millennia BC, as well as from the Punic-Phoenician colonisation. The former includes items from the Talaiotic culture, Iberian, Celtic, and Tartessian artifacts. The collection of Iberian sculpture from southern and southeastern Iberia is particularly notable, including stone sculptures such as the iconic Lady of Elche, the Lady of Baza, the Lady of Galera, the Dama del Cerro de los Santos, the Bicha of Balazote, the Bull of Osuna, the Sphinx of Agost, one of the two sphinxes of El Salobral [es] or the Mausoleum of Pozo Moro.[7][8][9][10]

Iberian sculpture

Aside from the set of Iberian sculpture, the area also hosts other items from different cultures, such as the Talaiotic bulls of Costitx, the torque of Ribadeo from the Castro culture in northwestern Iberia, or the Lady of Ibiza, associated to the Punic civilization.[7]

Roman Hispania

The collection of Hispano-Roman artifacts—located in the 1st floor—comes both from diggings at specific archaeological sites as well as from punctual purchases.[11] The collection of Roman artifacts is completed by items from the personal collection of the Marquis of Salamanca (purchased in 1874 and comprising artifacts from the Paestum and Cales sites in the Italian Peninsula).[11][10] The main room of the area is a courtyard, where the artifacts are placed creating a sort of forum-like arrangement.[12] Meanwhile, the room #27 exhibits a number of mosaics both on its floor and walls.[13] The collection of Hispano-Roman legal bronzes includes the Lex Ursonensis, comprising five pieces found in the 1870s in Osuna.[14]

Late Antiquity

The halls corresponding to the Late Antiquity (1st floor) host pieces related to the period of time corresponding to the Lower Roman Empire in the Iberian Peninsula—the Diocesis Hispaniarum (3rd–5th centuries AD)—, the Visigothic Kingdom of Toledo (6th-8th centuries AD), the Byzantine Empire (5th to 12th centuries AD),[15] as well as some artifacts of other peoples from the Migration Period.[16]

Standout artifacts from this area include the Sarcophagus from Astorga [es], the Visigothic hoard of Guarrazar, including the votive crown of Recceswinth,[16] or the fibulae from Alovera [es].[15]

Medieval World, al-Andalus

The area dedicated to al-Andalus is located in the 1st floor. Iconic pieces from al-Andalus include the pyxis of Zamora (actually made in Medina Azahara), the deer-like fountain source of Medina Azahara [es] or the marble font for ablutions of Almanzor.[17] A Jewish bilingual chapitel from Toledo is also exhibited.[18] Two items of the so-called Alhambra vases [es] stand out within the collection of Nasrid pottery [es].[19]

Medieval World, Christian kingdoms

The area dedicated to the medieval Christian Kingdoms (roughly ranging from the 8th to the 15th century) is located in the 2nd floor. Iconic pieces of Romanesque ivory craftsmanship include the Arca de las Bienaventuranzas [es] and the Crucifix of Ferdinand and Sancha.[21] The medieval collection features the praying statue of Peter I of Castile [es], made in alabaster and moved from the former convent of Santo Domingo el Real in Madrid [es] to the National Archaeological Museum in 1868.[22][21] It also displays a number of items of Levantine pottery.[21]

Near East

The topic area devoted to the Ancient Near East (conventionally excluding Ancient Egypt) is located at the 2nd floor. One of the most important sets of the MAN's Near East collection is that of pottery from Iran.[23] The museum displays a diorite head from Mesopotamia donated to the Prado Museum in the 1940s by the Mexican collector Marius de Zayas (later deposited in the MAN).[24] 21st century purchases include that of the Praying Sumerian figure [es] bought at Christie's in 2001.[25]

Egypt and Nubia

The collections of Egypt and Nubia are made up mainly of funerary funds (amulets, mummies, steles, sculpture of divinities, ushabti...) ranging from prehistory to Roman and medieval times.[26] Many of the pieces come from purchases such as the one made from the collection of the Spanish Egyptologist Eduardo Toda y Güell[27] and also from various excavations such as the ones carried in Egypt and Sudan as a result of the agreements with the Egyptian government for the construction of the Aswan Dam[28] or the systematic excavations in Heracleopolis Magna.


The Greek collection is made up of works from continental Greece, Ionia, Magna Graecia and Sicily, where the collection of bronzes, terracottas, goldsmiths, sculptures and to a greater extent pottery come from; pieces that ranging from the Mycenaean to the Hellenistic period.[29] In its beginnings, the collection had funds from the Royal Cabinet of Natural History and the National Library, the collection was later enriched with works brought from the expeditions of the frigate Arapiles to the East[28] in addition to the purchase of private funds such as those of the Marquis of Salamanca[30] or those of Tomás Asensi.

Notable artifacts

Prehistoric and Iberian

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ Lanzarote Guiral, José María (2011). "National Museums in Spain: A History of Crown, Church and People". In Aronsson, Peter; Elgenius, Gabriella (eds.). Building National Museums in Europe 1750–2010 (PDF). Linköping University Electronic Press. p. 853.
  3. ^ Official website (in Spanish), plus information from Madrid Tourist Office etc, as at November 24, 2013.
  4. ^ Marcos Alonso, Carmen (2017). "150 años del Museo Arqueológico Nacional" (PDF). Boletín del Museo Arqueológico Nacional (35): 1699. ISSN 0212-5544.
  5. ^ "Egipto y Oriente Próximo", Museo Arqueológico Nacional (in Spanish)
  6. ^ "The Deutsches Museum Replica". Retrieved 2019-11-21.
  7. ^ a b "Protohistoria" (PDF). pp. 34–51.
  8. ^ Pulido, Natividad (4 March 2012). "Museo Arqueológico Nacional, la nueva joya de la corona cultural en Madrid". ABC.
  9. ^ Prieto, Ignacio M. (2009). "Esfinge de El Salobral" (PDF).
  10. ^ a b Beltrán Fortes, José (2007). "El marqués de Salamanca (1811-1883) y su colección escultórica. Esculturas romanas procedentes de Paestum y Cales" (PDF). In Beltrán Fortes, José; Cacciotti, Beatrice; Palma, Beatrice (eds.). Arqueología, coleccionismo y antigüedad : España e Italia en el siglo XIX. Universidad de Sevilla. p. 37. ISBN 978-84-472-1071-8.
  11. ^ a b Salas Álvarez 2015, p. 281.
  12. ^ Salas Álvarez, Jesús (2015). "La Arqueología Hispanorromana en el Museo Arqueológico Nacional" (PDF). ArqueoWeb. 16: 281. ISSN 1139-9201.
  13. ^ Salas Álvarez 2015, p. 283.
  14. ^ Paredes Martín, Enrique; Revilla Hita, Raquel (2019). "Cinco años de investigación, divulgación y colaboración UCM-MAN a través de los bronces legales béticos del Museo" (PDF). Boletín del Museo Arqueológico Nacional. 38: 300. ISSN 2341-3409.
  15. ^ a b "De la Antigüedad a la Edad Media" (PDF). Museo Arqueológico Nacional.
  16. ^ a b Franco Mata, Ángela; Balmaseda Muncharaz, Luis; Arias Sánchez, Isabel; Vidal Álvarez, Sergio. "Nuevo montaje de la colección de Arqueología y Arte Medieval del Museo Arqueológico Nacional" (PDF). pp. 422–425.
  17. ^ García-Contreras Ruiz, Guillermo (2015). "Al-Andalus en el Museo Arqueológico Nacional: Donde arquitectura y artes decorativas prevalecen por encima de la historia" (PDF). ArqueoWeb. 16: 296. ISSN 1139-9201.
  18. ^ "El mundo medieval. Al-Andalus" (PDF). p. 78.
  19. ^ Franco Mata, Ángela (2014). "Artes suntuarias medievales en el actual montaje del Museo Arqueológico Nacional". Anales de Historia del Arte. Madrid: Ediciones Complutense. 24: 157. ISSN 0214-6452.
  20. ^ Martín Moreno, Elena (November 2016). "La transmisión del saber clásico Astrolabio andalusí de Ibn Said" (PDF).
  21. ^ a b c "Los reinos cristianos (s. VIII–XV)" (PDF). pp. 82, 85.
  22. ^ Cómez Ramos, Rafael (2006). "Iconología de Pedro I de Castilla" (PDF). Historia. Instituciones. Documentos. Seville: Universidad de Sevilla. 33: 68–69.
  23. ^ "Oriente Próximo Antiguo" (PDF). p. 109.
  24. ^ Calvo Capilla, Susana (6 September 2005). "La colección de Marius de Zayas (I)". Rinconete. Centro Virtual Cervantes. ISSN 1885-5008.
  25. ^ "Museo arqueológico Nacional. Memoria anual 2001" (PDF). p. 12.
  26. ^ "Egypt and the Near East". Retrieved 2022-05-10.
  27. ^ Mellado, Esther Pons (2018). "La colección egipcia de Eduard Toda i Güell del Museo Arqueológico Nacional". Arqueología de los museos. 150 años de la creación del Museo Arqueológico Nacional: Actas del V Congreso Internacional de Historia de la Arqueología / IV Jornadas de Historia SEHA - MAN, 2018, págs. 1075-1090. Subdirección General de Documentación y Publicaciones: 1075–1090.
  28. ^ a b "Museum collections". Retrieved 2022-05-10.
  29. ^ "Greece". Retrieved 2022-05-10.
  30. ^ "Publications - Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport". Retrieved 2022-05-10.
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National Archaeological Museum (Madrid)
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