jump to navigation

Athens link uplifting city’s culture, park January 2, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Hellenic Light Americas.

Nashville’s Parthenon will soon have closer relations with its much older Greek sibling, if city officials have their way.

With the upcoming completion of a new Acropolis Museum in Athens, Greece, officials at both Parthenons are in talks to create linked exhibits, cultural performances and Webcams and blogs linking the two facilities. Some of these developments could be seen as soon as within the next year. Nashville’s Parthenon is the world’s only full-scale replica of the ancient structure in Athens.

Those connected with the project describe it as a “win” for both Nashville and Athens. The internationalization of the Parthenon with ancient exhibits from the Acropolis could take Centennial Park to a new level of visibility. And visitors to Athens stand to benefit from seeing a replica of the Parthenon, complete with a statue of Athena, just as it looked when the original structure was built for worship.

“Every time you talk to a competitor, and every city is a competitor, it has to make sense,” said Butch Spyridon, president of the Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We can both reach new and different audiences with our message with a partnership.”

Susan Jones, chair of the Metro Park Board, said there is an opportunity to have a “real connection from Nashville to Athens.” “Athens is considered the birthplace of European civilization,” Jones said. “You really can’t estimate the cultural and tourism impact of that kind of relationship.”

Talks between the two Parthenons were formalized in December, when a delegation of Nashvillians including Jones and Spyridon, as well as other Parks Department and Metro representatives, traveled to Athens for a three-day trip to meet with the Greek Minister of Tourism, Secretary General of the Ministry of Culture and Museum officials. Also on the trip were George Anderson of Friends of Centennial Park & The Parthenon, Mayor Bill Purcell and Barbara Tsakirgis of Vanderbilt University’s Classical Studies Department.

“They were very receptive,” Anderson said. “It really turned out to be more than we expected.”

In addition to cultural and educational benefits of shared exhibits with the Acropolis and links to the people of Greece, the project could help market Nashville as a tourist destination. International visitors currently make up 3 percent of Nashville’s 10,000,000 visitors annually, or approximately 300,000 people, Spyridon said. With valuations of the Euro currently making U.S. travel relatively cheap for Europeans, it’s a good time to market Nashville overseas.

While the Nashville Parthenon alone, even after it is enhanced with links to Athens, might not draw the bulk of Nashville’s tourists, Spyridon said the project stands to enhance the city’s international profile, diversify the music industry brand and extend the stays of visitors.

“I think the contributions are immeasurable, because it is such an urban, iconic park for Nashville and speaks to the city’s educational heritage,” Spyridon said. “We won’t stray from our brand, but we’ll broaden the perception of our brand.” 

%d bloggers like this: