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Acropolis Museum > A new home for old artifacts October 15, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece, Arts Museums.
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acropolis_moving_artifacts.jpg  A container with ancient artifacts inside is lowered from the Acropolis yesterday at the start of the process to transfer more than 4,000 antiquities from the Sacred Hill to the new Acropolis Museum some 400 meters away using three giant cranes.

The beginning of the historic operation was watched by hundreds of onlookers, including protesters who want the government to halt plans to knock down two listed buildings that are partially blocking the view of the Parthenon from the new Acropolis Museum, which is due to fully open to the public late next year.

New Acropolis Museum October 12, 2007

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the_new_acropolis_museum.jpg  Workers clean the windows of the new Acropolis Museum, designed by US-based architect Bernard Tschumi, as it braces for the transfer of thousands of precious artifacts, starting Sunday 14 October.

Three cranes will be used for the delicate operation that is expected to last at least 38 days. A test run was scheduled today. Controversy persists over plans to demolish two listed buildings on Dionysiou Areopagitou Street, near the Museum’s entrance, which partly block the view to the Parthenon.

New drive for return of the Parthenon Marbles October 6, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece, Arts Museums, Vote For Return Greek Marbles.
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Greece should use the opening of its new Acropolis Museum to ratchet up the pressure on Britain for the permanent return of the Parthenon Marbles to their homeland, the head of an international campaign said yesterday.

The 2,500-year-old sculptures and friezes were removed from Greece in the early 19th century by British diplomat Lord Elgin and successive British governments have refused to return them despite a campaign launched by Greece in the early 1980s.

parthenon_marbles1.jpg  “What we would like to see is the Greek government to elevate this as an issue in bilateral relations between Britain and Greece,” said David Hill of the International Organization for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles after meeting Greece’s new Culture Minister Michalis Liapis.

The 129-million-euro Museum, originally slated for completion before the 2004 Olympics in Athens, was delayed for legal reasons and by new archaeological discoveries on the site at the foot of the famed Acropolis Hill. With 20,000 square meters (215,000 square feet) of space, the facility is expected to display about 4,000 works, 10 times the number at the old hilltop Museum it replaces. A top-level, glassed-in gallery has been designed to hold the Marbles, if and when they are returned, while offering an unobstructed view of the Acropolis.

Curators will start transferring hundreds of antiquities to the new Museum by crane on October 14, although the new Museum is not due to start opening until next year, with the completed galleries open by 2009.

Liapis told reporters that “the reunification of the Marbles is an historical necessity… with the return of antiquities to the Museum in a few days, it gives us new optimism and perspective.” Athens now proposes that the Marbles, currently kept at the British Museum in London, are returned through a long-term loan.

parthenon_marbles2.jpg  Hill said he hoped that Prime Minister Gordon Brown would prove more accommodating than his predecessor Tony Blair. Hill said the new Museum would allow the Marbles to be presented much better than in London. “The Museum is the best argument for the return of the Marbles, and is arguably one of the most significant new buildings in Greece for 2,000 years. It is of enormous significance, not only to Greece but to the world.”

Acropolis artifacts to be moved to the New Museum October 3, 2007

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Swaddled in white drop cloths, hundreds of sculptural masterpieces from the Acropolis are waiting to be delicately lifted by crane to a new, glass and concrete Museum nearing completion at the foot of the ancient citadel.

acropolis_artifacts2.jpg  In just a few days, on October 14, officials plan to start whisking some 4,500 artifacts from the old, cramped Acropolis Museum. It will be the first time the artifacts, some of which are considered among the most important works of antiquity, have been moved from the site. A trial run will be held next week.

The first piece to make the 400-meter journey will be a 2.5-ton marble block from the Parthenon frieze, a 2,500-year-old sculpted strip depicting a religious procession that ran around the ancient temple just below roof level.

“This is one of the biggest and the least fragmented of all the blocks in the frieze”, senior conservator Dimitris Maraziotis told The Associated Press. Supervising engineer Costas Zambas said the transfer will take at least a month and a half, although bad weather could prolong the operation. It will cost 2.5 million euros.

acropolis_artifacts1.jpg  Using three cranes up to 50 meters high, a team of 35 workers will relay the priceless artifacts, mostly from the 6th and 5th centuries B.C., off the Acropolis hill into the purpose-built new Museum.

“Every single part of the operation will be difficult and requires great care” said Zambas, a veteran of the long-running Acropolis restoration project who was involved in removing the remaining sculptures from the Erechtheion and Parthenon temples for display in the old Museum.

Wearing padded harnesses, the sculptures will be hoisted into styrofoam-filled boxes made of plywood and metal. Each crate will take up to 2½ hours to reach the new Museum, traveling just a few meters above ground level, according to Zambas. Up to four crates will make the trip every day.

acropolis_artifacts3.jpg  Beyond the creation of an architectural landmark in its own right, there are political aims behind the long-delayed 129 million euros Museum. Greece hopes the new building’s top-level display conditions might propel the country’s decades-old campaign to regain the Parthenon Marbles, stolen 200 years ago by Lord Elgin, a British diplomat, and currently on display at the British Museum. The London museum refuses to return the works, but Greece has proposed that they should be displayed in Athens, alongside the remaining sections, as a long-term loan.

Initially scheduled for completion before the 2004 Athens Olympics, the new, 20,000-square meter Museum was delayed by legal fights and new archaeological discoveries at the site, many of which will be visible under glass floors. It will contain more than 4,000 works, 10 times the number on display in the old Museum. The two-story building was designed by U.S.-based architect Bernard Tschumi in collaboration with Greece’s Michalis Photiadis.

The building will be capped by a glass hall containing the Parthenon sculptures. The glass walls will allow visitors a direct view of the ancient temple. The new Museum is expected to open in sections next year, but the full collections will go on view before 2009.

New Acropolis Museum nearly ready September 28, 2007

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Acropolis sculptures due to start arriving at new home in mid-October

The task of transferring antiquities from the old Museum on the Acropolis to the new Acropolis Museum starts on October 14. Though the official opening has been scheduled, the new Museum venue is not far from completion and we can expect many celebrations in the interim. We will see official openings at every phase of the project.

In any case, as repeatedly pointed out by Organization for the Construction of the New Acropolis Museum President Dimitris Pantermalis, the new Museum must be accessible to the public. And the best way to attract them is to bring them in while the exhibition spaces are still being prepared.

Empty as it was on Monday during the visit of newly appointed Culture Minister Michalis Liapis, the Museum looked vast, but also friendly to the visitors who will file in, as well as to the thousands of exhibits that will no longer be crammed into a tiny space as they are in the old location.

The glass floors on the ground floor that highlight the antiquities discovered in recent years are the first thing that strikes the visitor, not only because the finds were not destroyed but because they are showcased so effectively. That impression is enhanced by the rest of the Museum, where glass walls seem to lengthen the distance to the ground, with almost dizzying effect.

The greatest emotional impact comes at the point where the ramp rises to a view of the pediment with the lions (more than 18 meters in length), with the display cases in niches next to it and behind them one of the Caryatids, impressive, even if it is a copy.

There are many viewing areas, as Acropolis Ephor Alexandros Mantis showed the Minister, which will encourage visitors to view the exhibits from different angles. In the last hall, which will play a key role in the Museum as it will house the Parthenon sculptures, a huge opening through which the antiquities will be brought indicates meticulous planning down to the last detail.

Liapis heard from Pantermalis and archaeologists from the Ephorate how the Parthenon frieze would be displayed and a net would indicate the parts that Lord Elgin took and are now in the British Museum.

The transfer of the antiquities will be finished in three months, with cranes making three or four trips a day. In fact the bases for the specially modified cranes are visible from a distance. 

New Acropolis Museum to open in stages in 2008 September 24, 2007

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The transfer of artifacts from the old Acropolis Museum, which stands atop the historic hill itself, to the new ultra-modern and spacious Museum will begin on October14, Greek Culture Minister Mihalis Liapis announced on Monday during a tour of the under-construction new venue, which is in the final stages of completion.

  The transfer is expected to take three months, as the new Museum will be opened to visitors in stages, beginning in early 2008, and 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.

The new state-of-the-art Museum directly faces the Acropolis and the Parthenon Temple atop the hill from the south.

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 much-hoped for return of the Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum, meanwhile, copies of the friezes, 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 will continue to press for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Athens.

“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 hi-tech glass that allows visitors to maintain visual contact with the structures on the Acropolis, while viewing the artifacts on display.

On the ground floor, visitors will have direct visual contact with subterranean archaeological remains of an ancient Athenian neighbourhood that were uncovered at a depth of seven metres, when the foundations for the new Museum were being dug. This links the daily lives ancient Athens’ residents 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.

The Caryatid women columns taken from the Erechtheum Temple on the Acropolis, now replaced with replicas, and various archaic sculptures will be displayed on the ramps and the first floor. A cafeteria and restaurant will be located on the second floor, while the third floor will be devoted to the display of the Parthenon Marbles.

Regarding the controversy over the Ministry’s plans to demolish two 1930s-era art deco buildings on Areopagitou Street that partially block the view of the Acropolis from the Museum’s lower floors, Liapis said he would continue his predecessor’s policy, namely, to advocate their expropriation and demolition.

According to the Minister, the old Museum on the Acropolis will be used to display items and materials to help visitors gain a better understanding of the site, such as illustrations by 16th and 17th century travellers, and before the Parthenon and the other buildings on the Acropolis suffered extensive damage from a 1688 siege. Other materials will describe 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.