The National Museum of Antiquities is located in Leiden and was founded in 1818 by King William I. It is also one of the oldest museums in the Netherlands. The museum’s archaeological collection consists of four areas: ancient Egypt, the Near East, the classical world and early Netherlands. The Egyptian collection has been one of the world’s top ten collections for years. Masterpieces from this collection include the Isis-temple from Taffeh (circa 0-100 A.D.) and the sculpture of Maya and his wife Merit (circa 1325 B.C.). The museum’s total collection consists of over 80,000 objects from different areas. Approximately 6000 of these objects can be admired in the permanent display, the rest are stored in depots.
The museum is housed in a monumental building along one of the most famous canals of Leiden: the Rapenburg. Since 1995, the museum has been an independent foundation that manages the national collection and makes it accessible to the larger public.
The collections themselves were mainly accumulated during the nineteenth century, but the number of objects is still on the rise. New objects enrich the museum’s collections on a regular basis. That may be just one object one time, or a complete collection another time. Those acquisitions come into the museum’s possession in various ways: a targeted purchase of a collection or part thereof may be made via the art market, or via the inheritances, legacies and gifts by private collectors.
Archaeologists from the museum conduct excavations and research every year in Egypt (Saqqara) and Syria (Tell Sabi Abyad) to gain information about the historical context of the Egyptian collection and collection from the Near East.