A visitor standing next to the statue of Athena

Room 19

Greece: Athens

430–400 BC

Visiting the gallery

Limited opening times

Closed until further notice.

Gallery audio guides

Listen on the Audio app, available on the App Store and Google Play.

Visit Room 19 at the British Museum to enjoy sculpture and architecture of Athens at the height of its political and cultural power.

For much of 5th century BC, Athens was the wealthiest and most powerful state in mainland Greece. 

Room 19 displays a number of sculptures from this period, which saw the rebuilding of numerous structures on the Acropolis, the sacred heart of the city of Athens, after the Persian sack of 480 BC. 

When the Parthenon was completed in 432 BC, Athens had already embarked on the disastrous 'Peloponnesian War' against Sparta. Final defeat in 404 BC brought about the end of Athens' golden age and stripped the city of its empire, defences and – for a time at least – its democratic government. The building programme on the Athenian Acropolis was interrupted by the war.

Take a virtual tour

Explore what life was like in Athens in the 5th century through pottery, sculpture and more, using Google Street View.

Pottery in Room 19. ©2020 Google

Gallery facts

Some of the sculptures in this room are from the Acropolis, the sacred heart of the city of Athens. 

From around 450 BC, Athens was rebuilt as a great showpiece of Athenian power, wealth and art. 

On display in Room 19 are parts of the Erechtheion and Athena Nike temple. 

Gallery facts

The temple of Athena Nike, goddess of Victory, was built around 425–400 BC at the entrance to the Acropolis and is the smallest temple built from this period.  

The Erechtheion was the most important religious building in Athens. Probably begun around 421 BC during a lull in the long war between Athens and Sparta, it was completed around 404 BC.

Six female figures supported the roof of the Erechtheion. Known as Caryatids, one is on display in Room 19.

Accessibility

  • Some objects in this collection feature on the British Sign Language multimedia guide. This resource is temporarily unavailable.
  • Some objects in this collection feature on the audio description guide, available on Soundcloud.
  • Step-free access. 
  • View sensory map.

Visit Accessibility at the Museum for more information.

Room 19 closure

Room 19: Greece: Athens 430–400 BC is temporarily closed. The Museum is an historic and listed building and there are ongoing infrastructure assessments across the site. We have a team of specialists who make regular checks across the Museum to monitor and ensure appropriate management of risks to the collection. The care of the collection and the safety of our visitors and staff are our utmost priority.

The essential works being undertaken are part of a programme of building maintenance and conservation which will help enable future works on the Museum estate. Alongside these essential repairs, we are developing a strategic masterplan to transform the British Museum for the future. It will involve actively renovating our historic buildings and estate, improving our visitor experience and undertaking an ambitious redisplay of the collection in the years to come.

Explore Room 19 online using Google Street View