Who are we?

Sculptures of Roman gods in the museumSculptures of Roman gods in the museum
Mummy cases in the Egyptian collectionMummy cases in the Egyptian collection
The collection as tool for educationThe collection as tool for education
Archaeological dig in Jordan (Tell Damiyah)Archaeological dig in Jordan (Tell Damiyah)
Museum facade on the Rapenburg canal in LeidenMuseum facade on the Rapenburg canal in Leiden

The National Museum of Antiquities brings archaeology and the ancient world to life. At our museum, everyone can discover the age-old civilizations of Egypt, the Classical World, the ancient Near East, and the Netherlands – in prehistoric, Roman, and medieval times.

Collection

The National Museum of Antiquities has some 180,000 objects in its collection, divided into four areas:

  1. Egypt
  2. Classical Antiquity (Greeks, Romans, and Etruscans)
  3. the Ancient Near East
  4. the Netherlands (prehistory, the Roman period, and the Middle Ages)

Recently, the annual number of museum visitors has ranged from 150,000 (in 2011) to 210,000 (in 2014).

Temporary exhibitions

You can see the highlights of the museum collections all year round in our permanent departments. We also organize temporary exhibitions that are related to our permanent collection. These usually involve a combination of objects from our collection and loans from other organizations, varying from specialized Dutch museums and collections to world-renowned institutions.

Egyptian collection

The National Museum of Antiquities has one of the world’s top ten Egyptian collections. The absolute highlight is a complete 2,000-year-old Egyptian temple from the village of Taffeh. This temple was a gift from Egypt to the Dutch people, in gratitude for the country’s role in a UNESCO rescue operation in the 1960s. In the entrance hall you can view this impressive monument from all sides.

Activities for everyone

The museum organizes year-round activities for the general public and for people of all ages. These range from an extensive programme of lectures to children’s activities during school holidays and a variety of concerts. 

Education

Every year, many groups and classes from primary and secondary schools visit the museum. We develop new museum lesson plans for them each year, along with teaching materials for classroom use. In 2014, more than 24,000 schoolchildren visited the museum.

Scholarship

The curators at the National Museum of Antiquities are actively involved in scientific research at both the national and the international level. A few examples:

  • Three of our staff members hold endowed professorships at Leiden University.
  • Two of our curators lead archaeological digs in Egypt and Jordan.
  • Our curators, conservators, and other staff members regularly publish scholarly articles and books about topics in their fields of expertise. 

History of the museum

The National Museum of Antiquities was founded in 1818, originally as Leiden University's 'archaeological cabinet'. Its first director was Caspar Reuvens, a pioneer in the field of archaeology. In the nineteenth century, many objects from classical antiquity and ancient Egypt were added to the collection. Until the Second World War, the museum was the only official Dutch institution to conduct archaeological excavations. On 1 July 1995, the museum became an independent non-profit organization that manages the archaeological part of the Dutch national collection. Its mission is to make these objects accessible to a large public.

The museum today

The current director of the National Museum of Antiquities is Wim Weijland. The museum has about 70 staff members (the majority working on a part time basis), who work with a large number of trainees and volunteers. A variety of freelancers and independent businesses also work with the museum. Our annual reports (in Dutch only) provide more information about the organization of the museum, and our annual accounts (in Dutch only) supply financial data.

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