The archaeological museum created by Napoleon III on 8 March 1862 was officially called the musée gallo-romain. However, the collections in its care quickly expanded beyond the Gallo-Roman period. Therefore, it was also known by 19th-century scholars as the musée d’antiquités gauloises, gallo-romaines et mérovingiennes; the musée celtique; and very often as the musée de Saint-Germain. In 1870, Alexandre Bertrand, the museum’s director, proposed calling it the Musée des Antiquités nationales, a name which was adopted soon after.
Since 2005, it has been called the musée d'Archéologie nationale and is very often referred to by the acronym MAN.