25 September, 2007
The transfer of the antiquities at the old Acropolis Museum to the new ultra-modern museum that is now in the final stages of completion will begin on October 14, Culture Minister Mihalis Liapis announced on Monday. The transfer is expected to take three months to complete and the new museum will be opened to visitors in stages from the start of 2008, starting with the third floor. It will be fully open to the public after roughly one year, the minister added.
"A great vision is being carried out; an ultra-modern museum that has a dialectical relationship with the Acropolis," Liapis said as he toured the new building with Acropolis curator Alexandros Mantis and the director of the organisation for the construction of the new Acropolis Museum, archaeologist Dimitris Pantermalis.
In the first phase of the new museum's operation, possibly as soon as January, the public will be able to visit the top floor where the east and north metopes of the Parthenon will be on display after their transfer from the old museum.
In anticipation of the return of the Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum, meanwhile, copies of the sculptures currently in London will be displayed on the same floor but will be covered with a transparent veil to indicate their continued absence.
The minister also underlined that Greece would continue to press for the return of the missing Parthenon Marbles to Greece.
"We are all obliged to intensify our efforts for the return of the Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum because only then will we have fulfilled our historic duty," Liapis stressed.
The new building is dominated by the use of new-technology glass that allows visitors to maintain visual contact with the buildings on the Athens Acropolis while viewing the artifacts on display.
On the ground floor it allows visual contact with the underground archaeological remains of an ancient Athenian neighbourhood that were discovered at a depth of seven metres when the foundations were being dug. This links the daily lives of the people of ancient Athens with the temples directly opposite the Museum.
To the right and left on this floor, artifacts found on the slopes leading up to the Acropolis will be on display, such as those from the theatre of Dionysus, the temple of Pan and the temple of the Nymphs.
On the ramps and the first floor will be placed the Caryatids and various archaic sculptures, on the second floor will be the cafeteria and the Museum restaurant and on the third the display will be devoted to the Parthenon Marbles.
Regarding the controversy that has arisen over the ministry's plans to knock down two buildings on Areopagitou street that block the view of the Acropolis on the lower floors of the Museum, Liapis said he would continue his predecessor's policy calling for their expropriation and demolition.
According to the minister, the old museum on the Acropolis will be used to display items and material that helped visitors gain a better understanding of the site, such as illustrations by 16th and 17th century travellers before the Parthenon and the other buildings had suffered extensive damage, material describing the archaeological digs around the site, photographs of brass and copper statues that were at the Acropolis and were only known through the copies and other information.
Source: Athens News Agency