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New Acropolis Museum opening budget cut

This news is rather late, as the cuts to the opening budget were covered by some news sources many months ago. It seems only right that during a global economic downturn when governments have to make cutbacks across the board that such events have to be scaled back to a more manageable cost. In the end though, the opening event will come & go – it is the museum itself that will present the persuasive argument for years to come.

Financial Times [1]

Acropolis museum budget cut
By Kerin Hope in Athens
Published: May 23 2009 03:00 | Last updated: May 23 2009 03:00

Greece has cut the €6m budget for the festivities to mark the June 20 opening of the new Acropolis museum by more than half as recession looms over its economy.

But a ticket to see the 2,500-year-old sculptures from the Parthenon and other temples on the Acropolis hill will cost just €1 this year – the same price as a journey on the subsidised Athens metro. By comparison a ticket for Paris’s Louvre costs €9, or €14 ($19.56, £12.34) to include temporary exhibitions, and New York’s Metropolitan Museum charges $20 (€14.20, £12.60).

“A global recession isn’t the time for a big fireworks display, but we want everyone to be able to visit,” says Antonis Samaras, culture minister.

Yet in spite of the cuts, the gala opening still includes an official dinner at the museum for visiting heads of state and government, worldwide television coverage and a high-tech show in the sculpture galleries.

The Greek economy is projected to shrink by about 1 per cent this year, according to the International Monetary Fund. Years of excessive spending have pushed up the public debt to almost 98 per cent of gross domestic product.

The government has not made public the extent of cost overruns on the €130m museum, an austere glass and concrete block designed by Bernard Tschumi, a Swiss architect, and Michalis Photiadis, his Greek associate. Its construction took almost 10 years as Byzantine-era ruins found on the site had to be excavated and the ground floor redesigned.

Mr Samaras said Greece would not make a request during the festivities for the Elgin marbles to be re-turned, although Costas Karamanlis, the prime minister, has said its completion would mark “the time for the marbles to come home”.

About 40 per cent of the 160m-long frieze from the Parthenon, removed in the early 19th century by Lord Elgin, a British diplomat, is on show in London’s British Museum. The museum says it was legally obtained.

Greece’s own section of the frieze is displayed in the new museum’s top-floor gallery, which replicates the dimensions and orientation of the Parthenon. “Our strategy [on the Parthenon sculptures] hasn’t changed,” Mr Samaras said. “The presence of thousands of visitors to the new museum will send its own message.”

In the past three years, both Heidelberg University and the Italian government have returned fragments of sculpture taken from the Acropolis temples.

Dimitris Pandermanlis, chairman of the state-controlled company responsible for building the museum, said it could cater for 10,000 visitors a day.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2009

Associated Press [2]

New Acropolis Museum opening ceremony
ATHENS — Associated Press, Monday, May. 25, 2009 02:54AM EDT

A month before the lavish opening ceremony for the new Acropolis Museum, Greek officials are keeping quiet on the event’s details – other than the nearly $4.7-million price tag.

But in a bid to attract visitors in hard economic times, Culture Minister Andonis Samaras announced this week that there would be cut-price tickets for the landmark building. Admission will cost one euro (about $1.60) for the first six months – as much as a public bus ticket.

Initially scheduled to open before the 2004 Athens Olympics, the $200-million building crouches at the foot of the Acropolis like a skewed stack of smoked glass boxes. It will host most of the Acropolis finds – including some of the best surviving works of classical sculpture that once adorned the citadel’s marble temples.

About 2.5 million visitors are expected every year, and officials say they will be subjected to “airport-style” security screening. For the first three days, around 2,200 tickets will be on sale online.

Greece hopes that the long-delayed venue will help its campaign to regain the Elgin Marbles, though Samaras said the inaugural ceremony will not be directly used to promote Greece’s campaign for the return of the Elgin – or Parthenon – Marbles from the British Museum in London.

British Museum officials have rebuffed repeated Greek requests for the 2,500-year-old works, removed 200 years ago by Scottish diplomat Lord Elgin when Greece was still an unwilling part of the Ottoman Empire. They argue that the collection was legally acquired from Lord Elgin and is accessible, free of charge, to millions of visitors.

But Samaras said the new museum’s display – which will highlight the absence of about half the surviving Parthenon sculptures – would turn public opinion in Greece’s favour. “The presence of thousands of visitors will be much stronger than any public statement [on the dispute],” he said.

Details of the June 20 opening ceremony are a closely guarded secret. Samaras said it would involve new technology that would “place the antiquities in a more familiar context to modern visitors.”

Designed by U.S.-based architect Bernard Tschumi in collaboration with Greece’s Michalis Photiadis, the museum will contain more than 4,000 ancient works in about 200,000 square feet of display space. The highlight of the exhibition will be the top storey where Greece’s Parthenon sculptures will be displayed in their original alignment in a glass hall, with the ancient temple visible as a backdrop about 400 metres away.

The project has been dogged by repeated delays and criticized for its size and proximity to the Acropolis, a United Nations World Heritage Site.