Founded in 1993, the Museum was the brainchild of then-president of the IOC Juan Antonio Samaranch. The project was overseen by Mexican architect Pedro Ramírez Vázquez, an International Olympic Committee member, and Jean-Pierre Cahen. The museum was named the European Museum of the Year in 1995.
The Museum’s permanent exhibition is organized into three major themes on three separate floors: Olympic World, Olympic Games, and Olympic Spirit. A visit begins on the third floor, where the Olympic World part of the exhibition informs visitors of the history of the ancient Olympic Games and the rebirth of the modern Games in the 19th century. Highlights include a display of Olympic torches, as well as videos documenting major moments in the history of opening ceremonies history.
The second floor focuses on Olympic Games. Sporting equipment for a variety of sports are on display, and visitors are introduced to the Youth Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games. More than 1,000 video clips of Olympic Games events and athletes can be searched and viewed at individual viewing stations.
The final part of the permanent exhibit covers the Olympic Spirit, where visitors are made to feel part of an Olympic Village and can test their balance, agility, and mental skills with interactive exercises. Olympic medals are also on display.