October 13, 2007

Greece practices for artefact move

Posted at 1:51 pm in Elgin Marbles, Greece Archaeology, New Acropolis Museum

The move of sculptures to the New Acropolis Museum has been covered by a wide range of international News sources, even before the actual event has taken place.

Washington Post

Greek Officials Practice for Art Move
Published 10/11/2007 – 11:51 a.m. EDT
Associated Press Writer

A practice run for what will be the biggest antiquities removal project in modern Greek history _ moving some 4,500 ancient masterpieces into the new Acropolis Museum _ went successfully Thursday, officials said.

The real nail-biting will be on Sunday, when cranes begin shifting the first of the antiquities _ which are insured for $566 million _ from the ancient citadel to the new museum some 400 yards away, an operation that will take at least six weeks.

“The trial run was a success,” Culture Minister Michalis Liapis said. “We are now just one step away from moving the artifacts from the old to the new Acropolis Museum.”

On Thursday, movers in massive cranes shifted a 3-ton block of unworked marble off the Acropolis, past the fifth century B.C. Theater of Dionysos and into the new glass and concrete museum. The meticulously choreographed operation took 2 1/2 hours.

“It all went well,” said supervising engineer Costas Zambas. “If we had put a cup of coffee on top of the crate, not a drop would have been spilled.”

On Sunday, Zambas’ team will move a 2.3-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. Sculptures weighing up to 2.5 tons and mostly dating from the sixth and fifth centuries B.C. will be packed into styrofoam-filled boxes made of plywood and metal.

“This will be a historic event of major national importance,” Liapis said.

With four cranes in operation, transferring all the antiquities will take at least six weeks _ maybe longer if there is bad weather.

“Three months from now, the new museum will host … the Acropolis masterpieces, which will be moved for the first time in 2,500 years _ at least the first time legally,” Liapis said, referring to the removal of large sections of the Parthenon by Scottish diplomat Lord Elgin 200 years ago, when Greece was still an unwilling subject of the Ottoman Empire.

Elgin’s finds now are displayed in London’s British Museum, which has rejected repeated Greek requests for their return.

The display in the new, ultramodern Acropolis Museum _ designed by U.S.-based architect Bernard Tschumi in collaboration with Greece’s Michalis Photiadis _ will have space for the Elgin Collection, should British Museum officials change their minds, officials said.

The $182 million museum is expected to officially open in late 2008, although officials say some sections will be accessible while the displays are still being prepared.

“We believe the public should not be excluded from the most fascinating part of the museum’s life,” museum director Dimitris Pantermalis said.

The old museum on the citadel, built in the late 19th century, probably will be used for exhibitions on the Acropolis conservation program, the history of excavations on the site as well as drawings of the monuments by foreign travelers from the late Middle Ages onward

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