National Museum of Ukrainian History started its activity in 1899 as the Museum of Antiquities and Arts. In those times it was situated on the 6 Volodymyrska street. Museum building was designed by notable Kyiv architect Vladyslav Gorodetsky. Kyiv inhabitants raised money for the counstruction of the building. Historical museum was founded by Ukrainian archaeologist, ethnographer and art critic Mykola Bilyashivsky (he was the first director of the museum), archaeologist and ethnographer Vikentiy Khvoyka and Danylo Shcherbakivsky.
In 1904 the museum was sanctified and received a formal name - the Kyiv art-industrial and Science Museum named after the Emperor Mykola Olexandrovych. Museum was supported by the family Tereshchenko and Khanenko. They financed archaeological expeditions, contributed to the formation of historical and ethnographic collections. Each year the institution received a donation - objects of applied art, numismatic collections, which included unique Volodymyr's zlatnyk (the first gold coin of Kyivan Rus). The museum received more than 20 paintings from the famous Vyshnevetsky castle situated in Volyn region.
In 1909 the museum received first annual subsidy thus after it existed not only with the help of benefactors. In those times collection of the museum included 15 thousands of exhibits in the archaeological department, 13 thousands of exhibits – in the ethnography department, 600 – in the historic department, 400 - in the art-industrial department and more than 1,700 - in the library. After the October Revolution of 1917, the museum received a lot of valuable exhibits after the process of nationalization of private collections. During the revival of Ukrainian statehood in 1917-1919 years authorities tried to reorganize the museum into the national one, but those attempts were not successful.
After the establishment of Soviet power in Ukraine museum was declared to be state property. In 1924 the museum has become a comprehensive scientific institution with postgraduate studies. During this time period there epochal exhibitions were organized there: earthenware and porcelain items produced by Kyiv-Mezhygirska factory, Ukrainian carpets, Ukrainian portraits of XVII-XX century, afterlife exhibition of one of the most prominent Ukrainian artists of modern times - Hryhoriy Narbut, exhibition "Shevchenko in the background of his age" and others.
During the 1934-1935s Museum moved into the territory of the Museum town in Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra. When World War II began, the most valuable and unique exhibits from the museum were evacuated to the city of Ufa (Russia). Those which remained in occupied Kyiv were later transferred to the Pedagogical Museum (now the City Teacher's House). Many collections (weapons, handwritten letters, numismatics, glass, pottery, fabric, archaeological materials) were stolen by Nazis during October-December 1941 and October 1943. Some of them returned to the museum in 1947.
After the liberation of Kyiv museum restarted its work in November 1943. In May 1944 it was placed to the building where it is located till now - on the 2 Volodymyrska street in the former art school. By the criteria of number and value of the collections National Museum of Ukrainian History is one of the leading museums in Ukraine. Its collection contains almost a million exhibits. Among them - archeological and numismatic collections of world importance, ethnographic collection, collection of weapons, sights of decorative art, manuscripts, early printed books, paintings and graphic art, relics of the national democratic and social revolutions of the twentieth century. They reflect Ukraine's history from ancient times to the present.