The museum's history goes back to the creation of a Board of Directors in 1924. This was the first collective management body.
The museum’s first facility was a rustic house built to exhibit and conserve the objects found at the excavations and as a dwelling for its first custodian.
The growing number of visitors from the mid-20th century on made it necessary to build a new centre. The Altamira National Museum and Research Centre was created by the Ministry of Culture in 1979. Its purpose was to construct a scientific and administrative instrument in order to better manage and conserve the cave of Altamira.
The museum’s current home was opened in 2001, in a building planned by the architect Juan Navarro Baldeweg. The protection of the cave of Altamira was the principal deciding factor for its location, conception and construction,
The Altamira National Museum and Research Centre is a state-owned museum pertaining to the Directorate General of Fine Arts of the Ministry of Culture and Sport.