The Athens branch of the OeAI was founded in 1898. The institute building was erected according to plans by the architect Ernst Ziller on a plot on the Leoforos Alexandras which was given as a gift by the Greek state for this purpose. It was opened in 1908, and from 1947 to 2003 the Austrian Embassy was also housed in the institute building.
The duties of the OeAI Athens include research and excavation activities, professional and administrative support of Austrian scholars and students during their research in Greece, as well as the organisation of scientific events concerning archaeological themes. In August 2010 the first archaeological/art-historical Summer School took place at the OeAI, with the theme »Sanctuaries in Athens and Attica: from the beginning of the cult until the contemporary period«; students of classical archaeology and Byzantine art history from Vienna and Graz participated.
By agreement of the Greek department of antiquities, the OeAI Athens annually receives permission for three Austrian excavations in Greece. The current projects are
and in cooperation
In addition, excavations by Austrian universities in conjunction with the Greek antiquities service, and surveys (Elateia, east Crete, road project in the Peloponnese, Plataiai) occur.
The OeAI had a long excavation tradition in Elis (1910–1914, 1932 as an excavation of the OeAI, 1960–1981 in collaboration with the Greek Archaeological Society of Athens); the research activities and the processing of the finds are being continued.