The first proper museum buildings were designed in France in the late 18th century, and as the idea of the national museum was spread, museums started to appear elsewhere in Europe as well. The architecture was palatial and severe. Typical features included high central halls and monumental staircases. The first Finnish museum buildings also date back to this time, among them the Ateneum Art Museum.
Modern museum architecture emerged in the early part of the 20th century in the wake of Functionalism. The aim was to create a building that would serve its functions: collections care, exhibitions and museum administration.