The museum houses Greek works of art from the prehistorical to the modern times, an extensive collection of Asian art, hosts periodic exhibitions and maintains a state-of-the-art restoration and conservation workshop.
Although the museum initially housed a collection that included Islamic art, Chinese porcelain and exhibits on toys, it's 2000 re-opening led to the creation of satellite museums that focused on specific collections, allowing the main museum to focus on Greek culture over the span of the country's history.
The Benaki Museum, established and endowed in 1930 by Antonis Benakis in memory of his father Emmanuel Benakis, is housed in the Benakis family mansion in downtown Athens, Greece.
The museum's primary home is in the Benakis' home opposite the National Garden on Queen Sofias Avenue and owes its existence to the generoisty of Antonis Benakis, whose family lived in Alexandria.
In 1931, Benakis donated the family's home in Athens and their collection of more than 37,000 Islamic and Byzantine objects.
More than 9,000 artefacts were added by the 1970s, which spurred donations from other sources.