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Acropolis Μuseum

“ The Acropolis Museum is an archaeological museum focused on the findings of the archaeological site of the Acropolis of Athens. The museum was built to house every artifact found on the rock and on its feet, from the Greek Bronze Age to Roman and Byzantine Greece. It also lies on the archaeological site of Makrygianni and the ruins of a part of Roman and early Byzantine Athens.
The museum was founded in 2003 while the Organisation of the Museum was established in 2008. It opened to the public on June 21, 2009. Nearly 4,000 objects are exhibited over an area of 14,000 square metres.The Organisation for the Construction of the new museum is chaired by Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Professor Emeritus of Archaeology, Dimitrios Pandermalis.

History

The archaeological site over which the new museum is built - the pink Weiler Building is seen top right, the two buildings scheduled for demolition are seen top left, with the Acropolis Rock barely visible behind them Εarthworks in the archaeological site in Makrygianni, during the construction of the museum.
The first museum was on the Acropolis, (see Old Acropolis Museum); it was completed in 1874 and underwent a moderate expansion in the 1950s. However, successive excavations on the Acropolis uncovered many new artifacts which significantly exceeded its original capacity.
An additional motivation for the construction of a new museum was that in the past, when Greece made requests for the return of the Parthenon Marbles from the United Kingdom, to which they had been carried away, it was suggested by some British officials that Greece had no suitable location where they could be displayed. Creation of a gallery for the display of the Parthenon Marbles has been key to all recent proposals for the design of a new museum.

Location

The museum is located by the southeastern slope of the Acropolis hill, on the ancient road that led up to the "sacred rock" in classical times. Set only 280 meters (310 yd), as the crow flies, away from the Parthenon, and a mere 400 meters (440 yd) walking distance from it, the museum will be the largest modern building erected so close to the ancient site, although many other buildings from the last 150 years are located closer to the Acropolis. The entrance to the building is on Dionysiou Areopagitou Street and directly adjacent to the Akropoli station, line 2 of the Athens Metro.





Competitions for the new museum

The first architectural competition to design a new museum was held in 1976 and was limited to participants from Greece. Both the 1976 competition and one that followed it in 1979 failed to produce any results mainly because the plots of land selected for the proposed constructions were deemed unsuitable.
In 1989, a third competition for the design of the new Acropolis Museum was announced that would be international. A choice of three possible sites was provided. This competition was won by the Italian architects, <ι>Nicoletti and Passarelli. After delays throughout the 1990s, work on the construction of the museum based on this third design progressed to the stage of excavations for the foundations, but these were stopped due to apparently sensitive archaeological remains on the site, leading to annulment of the competition in 1999. In retrospect, the location of the new museum was rather straightforward: the large lot of the unused "Camp Makrygianni" gendarmerie barracks, opposite the Theater of Dionysus. The barracks were built on public land and a limited number of expropriations of surrounding private houses were needed to free up the necessary space. The main building of the old barracks, the neoclassical "Weiler Building", has been renovated and houses the Museum of the Center for the Acropolis Studies.
The fourth competition had made no provision for the preservation of the ancient site. These were met to a degree only after local and international (ICOMOS) campaigners exposed this oversight and it became the final competition. The new plans were adjusted so that the building was elevated above ground, on pillars. Competition was open only to architectural practices by invitation and it was won by New York–based architect, Bernard Tschumi, in collaboration with the Greek architect Michael Photiadis. Excavation has revealed two layers of modest, private roadside houses and workshops, one from the early Byzantine era and another from the classical era. Once the layout and stratigraphy of the findings were established, suitable locations for the foundation pillars were identified. These traverse the soil to the underlying bedrock and float on roller bearings able to withstand a Richter scale magnitude 10 earthquake.
As construction work neared completion, the operation to move the historic artifacts the 280-meter (310 yd) distance from the Acropolis rock to the new museum started in October 2007, took four months, and required the use of three tower cranes to move the sculptures across the distance without mishap. Greek officials expressed their hope that the new museum will help in the campaign for the return of the Parthenon Marbles.

The Building

The design by Bernard Tschumi was selected as the winning project in the fourth competition. Tschumi's design revolves around three concepts: light, movement, and a tectonic and programmatic element. Together these characteristics "turn the constraints of the site into an architectural opportunity, offering a simple and precise museum" with the mathematical and conceptual clarity of ancient Greek buildings.


The collections of the museum are exhibited on three levels while a fourth middle level houses the auxiliary spaces such as the museum shop, the café and the offices. On the first level of the museum there are the findings of the slopes of the Acropolis. The long and rectangular hall whose floor is sloping, resembles the ascension to the rock. Then, the visitor is found at the large trapezoidal hall which accommodates the archaic findings. On the same floor there are also the artifacts and sculptures from the other Acropolis buildings such as the Erechtheum, the Temple of Athena Nike and the Propylaea and findings from Roman and early Christian Athens. However the visitor is intended to see the latter during descent so as to keep the chronological order because he will first be directed to the last level of Parthenon marbles. The Parthenon hall has the same orientation with the temple on the Acropolis and the use of glass allows the natural light to enter.


As the museum is built over an extensive archaeological site, the floor, outside and inside, is often transparent using glass and thus the visitor can see the excavations below. The museum also provides an amphitheatre, a virtual theatre and a hall for temporary exhibitions.

sourse: wikipedia



June 2009 in the Dionysiou Aeropagitou neighborhood

Did you know that…

Antonis Samaras, the ex Minister of Culture stated that he wrote his speech for the inauguration of the Museum within one night -the night before the inauguration.

Those who did not attend the inauguration were Francois Fillon , Prime Minister of France because of affairs and the Turk Prime Minister Tayip Erdoyan, because of illness. However, the Balcan Presidents were present. The prime ministers of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia, Slovakia and also the prime ministers of Finland, Vietnam as well as the distinguished guests from China.


During the of the New Acropolis Museum inauguration period, Google modified its logo. If you clicked on it, you could visit web pages, including information on the museum, its exhibits and the history of them. 
Evangelos Venizelos has suggested in his web page the creation of a British Museum department inside the New Acropolis Museum, so that the marbles could return.


The Heads of State, the Prime ministers and the Ministers of Culture, who attended the inauguration had the chance to admire part of the beauties of our country, taking a cruise in Argosaronikos, one day after the inauguration. 
The week of the New Museum’s inauguration, the attention of the international public opinion was focused on the Iran facts, where the march of events was dramatic. Bloody protests of civil character as well as confrontations between the rivals and the political parties were taking place. 
The Minister of the Government of Kostas Karamanlis, S. Xatzigakis, at his statements on the creation of the New Museum, underlined only the historic contribution of Konstantinos Karamanlis to the efforts made for the construction of the Monument. He made no reference to the role and the contribution of Melina Merkouri. After a while, Kostas Karamanlis came and compensated for this omission.


The day of the New Museum’s inauguration, all residents of the near houses were kindly requested by the administration to keep the lights turned off, since a projection would be presented on the buildings! However, one of the neighbors insisted on keeping the lights turned on! The channels talked about funny Greek behaviors. 


The Greek Communist Party, on an announcement for the New Acropolis Museum claimed: “The luxurious events for the opening of the New Acropolis Museum mark an inauguration of the business function even of the archaeological museums, aiming to the total commercialization of our heritage”.

Before and after the 19th June

One day before the inauguration of the Museum, the International Committee for the Reunification of the Marbles met on Greek ground and its members stated (taken from an interview, published in the Sunday edition of the newspaper Vima):

David Hill

President of the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures.

“The three-month lending of the Sculptures, suggested to the Acropolis Museum by the British Museum consists a great insult for Greece, therefore the fact that the Greeks turned down this proposal was very good. It’s like asking a mother to compromise with the fact that her children have been kidnapped”, David Hill, Australian President of the Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles. 

Antony Snodgrass

Professor of Cambridge University, Britain.

“The biggest obstacle we have to face is the pride and prejudice of the British Museum. It finds extremely difficult to move to any action that could harm its image, like for example to start a discussion with Greek representatives on equal terms. I believe that the year 2002 is too soon for the different kind of obstacles to be surpassed. This doesn’t mean of course that we can’t make important progress until then. Besides, the British public opinion is in favor of the Greek side. Almost half of the population is aware of the situation and 65% - 75% among them states in favor of the return”.

Selina Figueiredo Laz

Vice president of the Brazilian Committee

“The reunification is not only a matter of Greece but a matter of all the world. This action creates a positive ambience throughout the planet and each committee is responsible to expand the campaign so that it gets to its aim. The biggest obstacle is the old-fashioned mentality, a mentality of the 18th century that consists the spiritual basis of the British Museum. These ideas are imperialistic, outdated, creating rage to many countries. The Acropolis has at last the museum that it deserved and all five members of the Brazilian Committee (professors of different universities), we voluntarily devote our lives for this aim. When we see the head of a statue being separated from its body or other marbles being cut in a violent way, ours souls hurt”.

Μika Rissanen

Member of the Finnish Committee

“The fact that the British Museum “legally” bought stolen works of art does not necessarily involve its right of property. The assertion of the Greek Marbles could lead the way for the repatriation of many works of art, grabbed by the British, within the framework of its imperialistic policy. We have to find a way to persuade the British, to make them regard the reunification as a move that will improve their public image and not as a defeat after the negotiations of many decades. I have studied History and I made my first walk in the Acropolis as a student in September 1999, the day after the big earthquake that shook up Greece. It was then that I was filled with awe, realizing that whatever happens, the Parthenon will always stand there”.

Dusan Sidjanski

Vice President of the International Association

<ι>“For so many years, the British Museum’s argument was that Greece does not obtain the suitable construction to place these works of art and that if these sculptures remain in London, a larger number of visitors will have the chance to see them. Since Saturday, the day of the museum’s inauguration, this argument is not valid anymore. My relation with Greece is a relation of life. I fell in love with my wife, who’s Greek and she made me fall in love with your country too. My aim is to ask for the intervention of important personalities from the art and literature ground . For example, it would be nice if Nana Mouschouri agreed to become an honored member of the Swiss Commission”.



The numbers of visitors

The two winged Victories welcome us from a distance and they promise optimism and welfare for the future. A high-record of visitors has been registered at the New Acropolis Museum, despite the world recession, noted in the museums all over the world.

The inauguration of the New Acropolis Museum cost 1.860.090 euros, while the event was covered by 440 journalists from 36 countries, 72 newspapers , 27 TV channels, 27 magazines, 25 news agencies and 12 radio stations.

The visitors of the New Acropolis Museum run up to 11.000 per day, while many of them choose to tour the museum through the Internet. Indeed, these particular visitors come from 169 different countries of the world. Until the end of 2009, and especially from 20th June until 31st December, 1,4 million people visited the Museum. Some days, the visitors made daily records and passed the number of 13.000 entrance tickets.

The visitors of the New Acropolis Museum run up to 11.000 per day, while many of them choose to tour the museum through the Internet. Indeed, these particular visitors come from 169 different countries of the world. Until the end of 2009, and especially from 20th June until 31st December, 1,4 million people visited the Museum. Some days, the visitors made daily records and passed the number of 13.000 entrance tickets.

During its first two months of operation, the Museum hosted 523.450 guests. Among them, about 60% were tourists coming from abroad. At the same time, 409.000 Internet visits were noted as well.

On the 1st January 2010, the price of the Museum ticket will come up to 5 euros, contrary to its former 1euro price, which was applied until the 31st December. It must be noted that the 5euro ticket is the cheapest of all the National Museums’ tickets in the world. More specifically, in the Louvre Museum, the ticket costs 14euros, while in the New York Museum, it costs 20 euros! However, if someone wishes to visit the Acropolis Museum now, the ticket’s price is rising to 12 euros.

The best hour for a visit is…the afternoon.

Further in Europe, another Museum has been hosting about 6 million visitors per year for the last 250 years. We are talking of course about the British Museum.

In 2009, the Louvre Museum in Paris distinguished as the museum with the largest number of visits worldwide, hosting 8, 5 million guests. The daily visits in Louvre ran up to 27.000, while these data hasn’t changed for the last 4 years. To the above evidence, it is worth mentioning that the Museum lost almost 50.000 visitors, because of the last December strikes. The web page of the Museum recorded 10,6 million visits, only during 2009.



“Acropolis metro station”

A replica of the Parthenon frontispiece welcomes us to the Acropolis metro station.
On the 16th November 2000, the inauguration of the Line 2 metro station of “Acropolis” is going to take place. It is an underground station, which has two opposite platforms. Inside the station spaces, archaeological findings are exhibited, discovered during the construction of the metro station, as well as replicas of works of art of the Acropolis.  
On the left side of the platform, we can see a mural with a replica of the Elgin Marbles, whereas on the right side the wall is covered with a photo of Melina Merkouri. The replica of the frieze of the Parthenon, exhibited in the platforms stands out as well as the replicas of the frontispieces’ compositions of the Parthenon at the metro entrances. The placement of the frieze’s replica on such a visible spot consists an indirect but unambiguous message of the Greek petition for the return of the Elgin Marbles from the British Museum to Greece.
The nearness of the metro station with the New Acropolis Museum, as well as the fact that the services of the specific platform are offered to the Museum visitors enforce the specific petition even more.

Research & Composition:
Dimitra Nikolopoulou
Page editorship:
Rania Dalalaki
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