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Friday, August 14, 2009

THE NEW ACROPOLIS MUSEUM


MUSEUM ENTRANCE
(walking over the 'glass' above ancient Athens)
JUNE 22/09
We've waited years for the new Acropolis Museum to open. It seemed as if they've never get it finished as each time they excavated they'd find new ruins below the ground. In the block around the museum site they had torn down some familiar buildings including one of my favorite tavernas, Socrates Prison, and the whole block of apartments where a couple of friends including our friend Graham used to live (right across from the To Kati Allo on Hatzichristou St.)

But finally, this weekend, the Museum officially opened. There's been a lot of grumbling by everyone about the structure which looks very 'industrial', however when they showed the holograms on the east wall, and when you saw it from the helicopter view as I did when watching the ceremonies on TV, you see that the building is designed to compliment the shape of the Acropolis (which is right across the road from the museum). After seeing the opening ceremonies I was anxious to have a look inside.


LOOKING DOWN ON A MOSIAC FROM THE ROMAN ERA

My friend Anna Britt was lucky enough to get inside on Sunday with her museum pass. Unfortunately I didn't have mine with me and need to have it updated. (It's a special pass for scholars and researchers allowing you access into all archaeological sites in Greece). The first couple of days were by reservation only (internet) and the after that, from Wednesday on, there was general admission for only 1 Euro. But the disapointing thing was, I was leaving early Wednesday morning so I'd miss the chance.

We did walk all around the outside, over the 'glass' roofs that they have placed over the three layers of ancient Athens: Byzantine, Roman and Classical. It gives you the feeling of 'flying' as you pass over the ruins. Quite a spectacular experience. I understand they will also be opening up a 'street' where you can actually walk right through on ground level. So by the next time I'm in Greece I'll be able to see what I missed this time.


ANCIENT WELL
The museum is an angualr structure of glass, steel, concrete and marble housing some 4,000 artifacts some of which had once been housed in a museum right on the Acropolis. The main feature of this museum is the Parthenon Marbles, and the famous "Elgin Marbles" now housed in the British Museum. At the opening ceremonies the focus was on these missing pieces that belong with the pediment of the Parthenon. It is hoped that now there is a safe place to keep them, the Brits will return them to Athens. (It was noted that the British representatives did not attend the opening ceremonies.)


REFLECTION IN THE WINDOWS OF THE MUSEUM

So, I've only viewed the museum from the outside. At night you can see the statues lined up on the top floor, bathed in golden light. On the east wall, across from the tavernas on Makgrianni St. there is a display of holograms every evening -- quite a spectacular show to watch while eating dinner or enjoying a glass of wine. I will wait with great anticipation next time I visit Greece for a chance to look inside. As I've seen it from the time the first bulldozers started to clear the land, the museum has been a part of my visits to Greece for a long, long time.



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