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More delays for New Acropolis Museum

The New Acropolis Museum is a project that has dragged on for well over 10 years with various architects. The latest problem is that many local property owners are using the courts to slow the construction process, in the hope that the site without the museum on will increase the value of their property.

Arts & Antiques [1]

Stalemates in Greece
Joel Groover
May 2004

ATHENS, GREECE—Greek officials hoped the empty galleries of a much-anticipated New Acropolis Museum would shame Britain into returning the Elgin Marbles in time for the 2004 Athens Olympics. But the architect of the half-built museum—a glass and steel box on the slopes of the Acropolis—now says it cannot open in time for the Games (August 13–29).

“Neighbors are trying to get more money for their property around it and are using the courts to slow the process,” says New York City–based architect Bernard Tschumi. Although property owners cite concerns about potential damage to archeological sites, Tschumi calls such claims a smokescreen. “The main body of archeologists in Greece approved the project,” he says.

The seventh Earl of Elgin removed the marbles from the Parthenon in 1801. The 2,500-year-old sculptures decorated his Scottish castle until the British Museum bought them in 1816. Their return in time for the Olympics would be a national triumph for Greece, but Britain fears opening a Pandora’s box that could compel the return of other state-owned treasures, notes University of Florida in Gainesville classicist and Olympics scholar David Young. “I don’t think the Brits will give them up,” he says.