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National Archaeology Museum

Was founded by José Leite de Vasconcelos.

The National Archaeology Museum (MNA) was founded by José Leite de Vasconcelos as the “Museum of the Portuguese People” “attempting to bring together material elements of culture that will help to impart knowledge about man … everything that will define the character traits of our people”. All along its history, the MNA accumulated remarkable holdings encompassing different themes: archaeology, ethnography, gold and silverware, coins and medals, pre-Latin and Latin epigraphy, sculpture, written documentation, mosaics and physical anthropology. Besides, it also boasts some remarkable archaeological and ethnographic “comparative collections” (Ancient Egypt and the Portuguese Royal House), along with different legacies and donations. However, the bulk of its holdings includes vast collections of Portuguese archaeology from the pre- and protohistoric, Roman, Arab and medieval periods.

The National Archaeology Museum was founded in 1893 as the “Portuguese Ethnographic Museum”, under the direction of Doctor José Leite de Vasconcelos. It was originally located at the Lisbon Academy of Sciences.  Since 1903 the museum has been housed at the former dormitory of the Monastery of Jerónimos, having opened to the public on 22 April 1906. Construction of the Monastery began in 1501 having become the icon of Manueline art. It was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1983. 

A second lifecycle started in 1929 when the new Director Manuel Heleno embarked on a campaign of intense archaeological excavations (between 1930 and 1960) that significantly increased the museum’s reserves. The MNA is currently the country’s main archaeological museum ranking high among its European counterparts.


Source: DGPC (