The Museum of Ancient Art contains about 4000 antiquities, one of the most important coin collections in Scandinavia, and more than 500 casts. Objects from Greece and Italy constitute the main part of the objects, but the museum also has objects from the Near East and Egypt.
The Museum of Ancient Art was founded by Professor P. J. Riis in 1949 as a study collection for the Department of Classical Archaeology at the University of Aarhus. The core of the collection was 500 representative finds from the classical cultures of the Mediterranean countries, permanently loaned to the collection by the National Museum in Copenhagen. In addition to this were a number of plaster casts of classical sculptures from the former Aarhus Museum.
Over the years the collection has grown steadily, and in 1971, on the initiative of Professor Kristian Jeppesen, a new exhibition area was inaugurated under Solgården. Since 1971, the museum has grown dramatically, in part through purchases, gifts, and permanent loans. The new physical surroundings and the many new acquisitions have created a museum that is not only suitable as a study collection, but which is also useful to upper secondary school classes, artists, and those with a general interest in ancient art. As a result of this, the collection changed its name to the Museum of Ancient Art in 1986.