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Ancient Athenian neighbourhood opens to public at Acropolis Museum


The Acropolis Museum will mark its 10th anniversary on June 21 with the official opening to visitors of an ancient Athenian neighbourhood that was excavated beneath the building and which is currently visible through the glass floor at its entrance.

Ancient Athenian neighbourhood opens to public at Acropolis Museum
Credit: Alexandros Vlahos/ANA-MPA
The 4,000-square metre site contains the ruins of an ancient neighbourhood dating from the Classical period and includes houses, workshops, bathhouses and streets.

It will also display items used in the daily lives of ancient Athenians in the 5th century that were unearthed during the excavations.


“Essentially, we will open a new floor of the museum, which will provide information about the daily lives of Athenians,” museum President Dimitris Pandermalis said.

“Light plays throughout the excavation,” explains Pandermalis. “We wanted to avoid the feeling of a basement and not to restrict the finds in a dark space that deprives them of their vitality. The innovation of the work being carried out here rests in our perception of the excavation: The entire thing is the exhibit, which the visitor is invited to explore.”

Ancient Athenian neighbourhood opens to public at Acropolis Museum
Ancient Athenian neighbourhood opens to public at Acropolis Museum
Ancient Athenian neighbourhood opens to public at Acropolis Museum
Credit: Alexandros Vlahos/ANA-MPA
Architect Eleni Spartsi, whose firm conducted the study for the exhibition space, told Kathimerini that the aim of the design was to maintain the feeling of a dig, without making the public feel as though they’re inside a museum.

“With respect to the architecture of the Acropolis Museum and using this architecture, we wanted to guide the public to the discovery of an ancient city beneath the modern one. This is achieved on the one hand by showcasing finds that describe all the aspects of day-to-day life – symposia, commerce, family relations. On the other hand, the artifacts appear to be in their natural place in the excavation, so that a tour of the site leads to the ‘discovery’ of the exhibits.”


The Acropolis Museum team has been working on this project for eight years and are justifiably proud of their accomplishment as they show us around. Even though the artifacts – numbering around 1,300 – will not be put on display for some time yet, the tour is no less fascinating.

The Acropolis Museum’s 10th anniversary is not just a celebration of its success, but also an opportunity to look back and to explore new beginnings.

Ancient Athenian neighbourhood opens to public at Acropolis Museum
Ancient Athenian neighbourhood opens to public at Acropolis Museum
Ancient Athenian neighbourhood opens to public at Acropolis Museum
Credit: Alexandros Vlahos/ANA-MPA
The museum was granted its own body of staff in March and an organizational chart, and is now ready “to get a director, just like any other museum,” says its president, Dimitrios Pandermalis.

“We have achieved our goals in these 10 years. We elevated the exhibits and highlighted their significance, while succeeding in turning a visit into an experience. Digital technology allows visitors to see their true form and to get an understanding of the sheer grandeur,” he says.


“All of us working at this museum gave a part of our soul to it from the very first minute so that it could get off the ground and win over the general public. The success of the endeavor was an enormous responsibility for me personally, because the Acropolis Museum is something that is of vital importance to the country. And today, it enjoys global appeal,” adds the respected archaeologist.

Referring to the issue of the Parthenon Sculptures at the British Museum, Pandermalis argues that the Acropolis Museum’s success has not been hampered by their absence.

Ancient Athenian neighbourhood opens to public at Acropolis Museum
Ancient Athenian neighbourhood opens to public at Acropolis Museum
Ancient Athenian neighbourhood opens to public at Acropolis Museum
Credit: Alexandros Vlahos/ANA-MPA
“We have a policy of not focusing on their absence, but on moving ahead and proudly showcasing all the wonderful things we have. And the fact is that we have an acropolis from Archaic times that is intact. At the same time, and thanks to the constant pressure being exercised by an international audience, we are making it clear that reuniting the marbles would not satisfy an entire nation, but would fulfill a legitimate demand,” says Pandermalis.

“If we keep trying, at some point, all of sudden – as is usually the case – they will come back to Greece. After all, museums all over the world are becoming more democratic and returning cultural treasures to the countries they were taken from,” he adds.

Source: Kathimerini [June 07, 2019]

TANN

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