October 12, 2007

Hundreds of antiquities will make move to New Acropolis Museum

Posted at 1:54 pm in Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

More coverage from various sources of the move of artefacts to the New Acropolis Museum, due to start in a few days time.

International Herald Tribune

Greek officials practice moving antiquities to new Acropolis Museum
The Associated Press
Published: October 11, 2007

ATHENS, Greece: 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 €400 million (US$566 million) — from the ancient citadel to the new museum some 400 meters (yards) away, an operation expected to take up to three months.

“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. … This will be a historic event of major national importance.”

In Thursday’s trial, officials practiced by moving a 3-ton block of unworked marble from nearby Mount Pendeli, where quarries provided the material for the sculptures of ancient Parthenon.

Three 50-meter-tall (170-foot-tall) cranes slowly moved the light blue crate off the Acropolis, past the fifth century B.C. Theater of Dionysos and into the top floor of the 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.

Wearing padded harnesses, sculptures weighing up to 2.5 tons and mostly dating from the sixth and fifth centuries B.C. will be packed in styrofoam-filled boxes made of plywood and metal.

Up to four crates will make the trip each day, with the whole transfer taking a minimum six weeks. Bad weather could delay the operation, but lofficials say it definitely will be completed by early January, when the lease for the cranes expires.

“In 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,” he 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 are now displayed in the British Museum in London, 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.

The new museum, which cost €129 million (US$182 million) and is close to completion, 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, which is when (the display) is being set up,” 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 onwards.


Greeks prepare first Acropolis move in 2,500 years
Thu Oct 11, 2007 3:57pm BST
By Karolos Grohmann

ATHENS (Reuters Life!) – Dozens of Greek archaeologists and engineers stood atop the Acropolis watching three cranes slowly relay a massive test marble slab ahead of moving day for some of the ancient world’s greatest treasures.

The cranes have been put in place to transport hundreds of antiquities related to the Parthenon, and currently crammed into a small 130-year-old museum atop the Acropolis, to a new museum at the foot of the hill.

The new museum is set to open in early 2008 and it will take the cranes two and a half hours to transfer each object, some weighing about 2.5 tonnes, in steel boxes the 400 meters (yards) to their new home. The move is expected to last six weeks.

“This will be their first move from their home in 2,500 years,” Culture Minister Michael Liapis told reporters. “This is a unique attempt even for international standards.”

Greece has taken out a 400 million euro ($568.6 million) insurance policy for this move.

Space has also been reserved for the Parthenon Marbles, now displayed at the British Museum in London and known widely as the Elgin Marbles after the British aristocrat who removed them in the early 19th century when Greece was under Ottoman rule.

“We wanted to show what is missing,” said Dimitris Pandermalis, head of the state body overseeing the museum’s construction. “We wanted to make it dramatically clear they are not here.”

Greece hopes the new museum will give impetus to its fight to get the Classical Age treasures back.

Athens has long demanded their repatriation and the third floor of the new steel-glass museum will be reserved for the Parthenon marbles.

Melbourne Herald Sun

Acropolis statues on the move to new museum
Nicholas Paphitis
October 12, 2007 12:00am

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.

In just a few days, officials plan to start whisking some 4500 artifacts from the old, cramped Acropolis museum.

It will be the first time the artifacts — considered among the most important works of antiquity — have been moved from the site.

“Everything is ready for this historic removal,” Culture Minister Michalis Liapis said.

“God willing — and weather permitting — the removal will start on Sunday, October 14.”

The first piece to make the 400m trip will be a 2.5-tonne marble block from the Parthenon frieze, a 2500-year-old sculpted strip depicting a religious procession.

“This is one of the biggest and the least fragmented of all the blocks in the frieze,” senior conservator Dimitris Maraziotis said.

Supervising engineer Costas Zambas said the transfer would take at least six weeks and bad weather could prolong the $3.9 million operation.

Using three cranes up to 50m high, 35 workers will relay the priceless artifacts — mostly from the 6th and 5th centuries BC — off the Acropolis hill into the new museum.

“Every single part of the operation will be difficult and requires great care,” said Mr Zambas, a veteran of the long-running Acropolis restoration.

Wearing padded harnesses, the sculptures will be hoisted into styrofoam-filled boxes made of plywood and metal.

Each crate will take up to 2 1/2 hours to reach the new museum, travelling just a few metres above ground, Mr Zambas said.

Up to four crates will make the trip every day.

Beyond the creation of an architectural landmark in its own right, there are political aims behind the long-delayed $200 million museum.

Greece hopes the new top-level display conditions might propel the country’s decades-old campaign to regain the British Museum’s collection of sculptures from the Parthenon, removed 200 years ago by Lord Elgin, a Scottish diplomat.

The London museum refuses to return the works, but Greece has proposed they be displayed in Athens, beside the remaining sections, as a long-term loan.

Initially scheduled for completion before the 2004 Athens Olympics, the 20,000sq m 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 4000 works, 10 times the number on display in the old museum.

The two-story building was designed by US architect Bernard Tschumi in collaboration with Greece’s Michalis Photiadis. It 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 probably not go on display before 2009.

– AP

Earth Times

Hundreds of antiquities make journey from to new Athens museum
Posted : Thu, 11 Oct 2007 11:29:04 GMT
Author : DPA
Category : Culture (General)

Athens – Thousands of Greek artifacts and antiquities will soon make the journey from a small outdated museum atop the ancient Acropolis to a new ultra-modern museum in Athens on Sunday. The operation to transfer more than 4,000 ancient statues, friezes and other artifacts is to begin Sunday and last up to three months, Greek Culture Minister Michalis Liapis told journalists Thursday.

He said 30 restorers and archaeologists will be working specifically on the project.

During a test run on Thursday, one of three large industrial cranes lowered a metal crate containing a 2.5 ton block of marble from atop the Acropolis hill to the new steel-and-glass structure, some 400 metres away, near the foot of the ancient hill.

Costas Zambas, the chief engineer for the transfer of antiquities, said the estimated transfer time for each crate was a little more than two hours.

Officials said among the first – and the heaviest – artifacts to be transferred Sunday will be parts of the western frieze of the Parthenon Temple to the top floor of the new museum, which has been christened “The Parthenon Hall.”

“These monuments will leave the Parthenon for the first time in 2,500 years – but this time legally,” Liapis said, adding that the new 20,000 square metre museum will hopefully help the government’s longstanding campaign to persuade Britain to return the Parthenon sculptures currently housed in the British Museum.

Dozens of marble friezes and sculptures were removed from the Acropolis by British diplomat Lord Elgin some 200 years ago and are currently housed in the British Museum.

Lord Elgin acquired his collection between 1801 and 1810 and it was bought by the British Museum in 1816, being a major attraction there since.

London has argued that one of the reasons it has refused to return the antiquities to Greece is that it lacks proper facilities to ensure their safety and preservation.

The new two-storey museum has been equipped with a glass hall with a wall of windows allowing visitors to look directly onto the 2,400-year-old Acropolis. Space has been set aside for the missing sculptures to hold replicas covered with veils.

Copyright, respective author or news agency


Museum ready for Acropolis exhibits
Published: 12, 2007 at 12:20 AM

ATHENS, Greece, Oct. 12 (UPI) — Greek antiquities experts are preparing for the delicate transfer of exhibits from the old Acropolis museum to a new facility.

The Athens News Agency said a practice run Thursday was successful, with three industrial cranes maneuvering a container carrying a 2.5-ton block of marble a quarter mile from atop the Acropolis hill to the new glass and steel facility.

The cranes will transfer of a section of the western frieze of the Parthenon Temple from the old museum to the top floor of the new Parthenon Hall Sunday, ANA said.

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