Athens City Greece Guide

Museums in Athens


Iliou Melatron, 12, Panepistimiou str., Athens
10671, Athens
Tel.: 210-3632057, 3612834, 3612872,
Fax: 210 3635953
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General information
The Numismatic Museum is one of the oldest public museums in Greece. It was established in 1834, the same year as the National Archaeological Museum.

The love for Antiquity, prevalent at the time in Europe, and the recent foundation of the Modern Greek state had created the conditions of protecting the national cultural heritage. Hence, from the beginning, the history of the Museum was directly related with that of the Modern Greek state, the social circumstances and the cultural directives of each age. However, a decisive role in its progress was played by the personalities of those who directed it.

In 1843, the Museum was co-housed with the National Library in a room at the University of Athens.

In 1856, Achilles Postolakas was appointed as the numismatic expert at the Museum until 1888 when he retired from its directorship. Postolakas set the basis of the scientific organisation of the Museum, attended to the increase of its collections, reported and published numismatic collections and systematically cared for the enrichment of its library.

In 1867, the Numismatic Museum was officially defined by law as an annex to the National Library.

In 1890 Ioannis N. Svoronos was appointed director to the Museum where he remained until 1922. The latter was transferred to the east wing of the Athens Academy building where the first coin exhibition was organised.

In 1893, the Museum became independent belonging to the Rectorate of the University of Athens under the General Ephor of Antiquities. In 1910, it came, along with all the other Museums, under the Archaeological department of the Ministry of Culture. Svoronos improved the NM by acquiring many numismatic collections and hoards. At the same time, his prolific writing work –as for example, his fundamental studies on the coins of Crete, Athens and the Ptolemies where he attempted a more synthetic approach to the ancient coinage- and the 1898 publication of the scientific periodical Journal International d’Archeologie Numismatique contributed to the Numismatic Museum being distinguished as a scholarly centre that enjoyed worldwide acclaim.

The Museum remained within the premises of the Academy of Athens until 1940, when the director Eirene Varoucha assumed the responsibility to transport the collections to the Bank of Greece for safety due to World War II.

In 1946, the Numismatic Collection was relocated to the first floor of the National Archaeological Museum, where the new exhibition was completed in 1956.

In 1964, Mando Oeconomides became director of the Museum.

The administrative autonomy of the Numismatic Collection was decided in 1965 while the earlier title of “Numismatic Museum” was accredited in 1977.

The Museum continued its progress and some very important steps were made in the cataloguing and management of its collections. The re-arrangement and publication of the ancient Greek and Byzantine hoards kept in the Museum, significant tools in determining the coin circulation in each period, testify to the Museum’s participation in the modern research methodology. At the same time, the conservation lab was organized during the decade of 1970s and the first educational programs were completed in the 1980s.

In 1984, the Ministry of Culture assigned the Iliou Melathron to house the Numismatic Museum. The monument was in need of extensive restoration and conservation works on its murals and mosaics.

In 1994, under the directorship of Ioannis Touratsoglou, the enrichment of the collections and the publications continued while the European partnership programs and digital applications began. The site of the Museum on the Internet was designed and carried out.

In 1998, after time-consuming restoration and conservation works, the permanent exhibition of the Museum was inaugurated on the first floor of the Iliou Melathron, presenting the ancient Greek coinages, the history of the Numismatic Museum and information on Heinrich Schliemann, the first resident at the Iliou Melathron.

In 2003, when the post of the director was assumed by Despoina Evgenidou, the collections, the library and the Museum’s equipment were transferred to the Iliou Melathron. Restoration works on the facade of the building as well as conservation works of the decoration on the second floor were carried out. At the same time, infrastructure works were constructed to better serve the visitors, such as the elevator for individuals with disabilities and other special needs and the cafe in the Museum’s garden. Besides publications, a greater emphasis was given to the launching of the Museum into the cultural and social life of the city through lectures, happenings, activities and daily educational programs.

In 2007, the permanent exhibition on the second floor of the Iliou Melathron was completed, presenting the history of coinage from the Roman period to Contemporary era.