Delphi Archaeological Museum - History and Facts | History Hit

Delphi Archaeological Museum

Delphi, Thessaly - Central Greece, Greece

Delphi Archaeological Museum displays artifacts from the Ancient Greek city of Delphi.

Antara Bate

24 Nov 2020
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Delphi Archaeological Museum

Delphi Archaeological Museum is an historical museum dedicated to exploring the history and exhibiting artefacts from the nearby archaeological site of ancient Delphi.

Delphi was a major city of Ancient Greece and its sites are themselves popular tourist attractions. Amongst its displays, Delphi Archaeological Museum exhibits statues, sculptures and everyday items excavated from Delphi as well as exploring the site’s history.

Delphi Archaeological Museum history

Delphi’s archaeological museum perfectly complements the ancient site alongside it and the treasures collected here bring an image of ancient Delphi to life. Rich and powerful petitioners flocked to Delphi from the 8th century BC onwards, bringing fabulous gifts and erecting opulent monuments. Unearthed by archaeologists, these now fill a succession of well presented galleries.

The museum began as a small museum in 1903 to celebrate the end of the first great archaeological campaign of French excavations and to exhibit the findings. The building was designed by the French architect Albert Tournaire, financed by a trust established by the Greek banker and philanthropist Andreas Syngros.

The museum proved to be popular and by the 1930s it was becoming too small to accommodate findings and the number of tourists who flocked to visit.

The construction of a new building was launched in 1935. The new museum was representative of the architectural trends of the Interwar period and was accomplished in 1939. However, this arrangement was only briefly in use.

The outbreak of World War II constituted a major threat to the antiquities which were put into storage. Part was kept at Delphi in the ancient Roman tombs or in specially dug pits in front of the museum. The most precious objects (the chryselephantine objects, the silver Statue of a Bull discovered three months before the outbreak of war, and the Charioteer were sent to Athens in order to be stored in the vaults of the Bank of Greece where they remained for 10 years. The region of Delphi was at the heart of the combat zone in the greek civil war and the museum was not reopened until 1952.

In the decades that followed, the museum underwent various other renovation and construction projects that addressed everything from the building itself to displaying the collections in ways that took advantage of modern museological methods and contemporary information technology.

Delphi Archaeological Museum today

The mission of the museum in its most recent incarnations is to present the exhibits in a way that they “compose a historical novel, the pages of which run across twelve centuries of history and archaeology: they narrate through museography the political, religious and ´artistic activity of the most renowned sanctuary of paganism and of its oracle.”

Today the museum accommodates one of the most valuable collections of ancient Greek art. The most famous find displayed in the museum is a 5th century BC bronze called The Charioteer, which is both life-size and very lifelike, its eyes of onyx giving an eerily human feel to its gaze.

Getting to the Delphi Archaeological Museum

There is a regular bus service from Athens that goes to the Delphi site. The drive is picturesque and would take around 2 hours if visitors choose to travel by car.

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