As the first anthology museum opened in Spain, the National Anthropology Museum has led the way in preserving and bringing in items from all over the world to Spain. Founded by King Alfonso XII in 1867, it was initially a museum of anatomy. The work of physician Pedro González Velasco (who funded much of the museum’s construction) was its first collection. It has since expanded to present various cultures of the world, highlighting their similarities and differences. The museum seeks to provide context and understanding and promotes a global cultural vision and message of tolerance.
Many of the prehistoric items presented are connected specifically to the history of Spain. Items from everyday life in Asia, the Americas, Africa, Europe, and Oceania show the rituals and beliefs that take place all over the world, including those related to clothing, art, war, and religion. There is also a lecture hall which allows for live performance of global traditional music and dance.