More on George Voulgarakis’s press conference about the progress of the construction of the New Acropolis Museum.
Greek long-delayed Acropolis museum to open in 2007
Tue Mar 21, 2006 3:01 PM GMT17
By Alkman Granitsas
ATHENS (Reuters) – After years of delays, legal wrangles and cost overruns, Greece hopes to open its Acropolis Museum by the end of 2007, Culture Minister George Voulgarakis said on Tuesday.
“It is our ambition that by 2007 the museum will be open to visitors,” he told journalists after touring the half-finished building near the ancient hilltop temples of the Acropolis.
Greece had hoped to open the museum before the 2004 Olympics to push its claim for the return of the 5th-century BC Parthenon marbles, widely known as the Elgin marbles, from the British Museum.
But after decades on the drawing board, the museum is now three years behind schedule and, at a projected final cost of 129 million euros (89.3 million pounds), 25 percent over budget.
Construction was held up partly by the discovery of early Christian era ruins on the site. Another delay was caused by residents who challenged the construction of the museum, citing zoning laws in the city centre.
The building itself has faced engineering challenges. Because of the risk of earthquakes, the four-storey museum is built on 94 shock absorbing supports to allow it to sway during tremors.
Once it is finished, the museum will house artefacts from the temples of the Acropolis, including the Parthenon, as well as serving as a hoped-for future home for the disputed Elgin marbles.
Since independence in 1832, Greece has pressed Britain to return the sculpted blocks of the frieze that were cut from the Parthenon by Lord Elgin, the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, which occupied Greece at the time.
The frieze depicts a procession of horses and people through Athens during a festival and is a masterpiece of ancient Greece.
A brochure for the new Acropolis museum says “nearly half of the frieze is currently at the British Museum in London and its restitution is the object of major political struggles.”
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation 
Long delayed Acropolis Museum scheduled for late 2007 opening
Last Updated Tue, 21 Mar 2006 17:14:47 EST
The end is in sight for the long-delayed Acropolis Museum project, with officials aiming for completion in late 2007.
Greek Culture Minister George Voulgarakis took journalists on a tour of the half-finished building in Athens Tuesday. “It is our ambition that by 2007, the museum will be open to visitors,” he said.
Voulgarakis added that artifacts are scheduled to be moved into completed sections of the museum beginning this summer.
The museum, located near the ancient temples of the Acropolis, existed only on paper for decades. Once construction started, it was then scheduled to open in time for the 2004 Summer Olympics.
However, construction was delayed by engineering difficulties in the earthquake-prone region, legal battles with nearby residents, rising costs and the discovery of architectural ruins on-site.
The project is now about three years behind schedule and 25 per cent over budget, with the final cost now estimated at $129 million euros (about $181.5 million).
In addition to artifacts from the Acropolis, the Greek government also hopes one day to display the frieze popularly known as the Elgin Marbles in the museum.
In the early 19th century, when the Ottoman Empire occupied Greece, British ambassador Lord Elgin ordered blocks to be cut out from the Parthenon. The massive chunks, which depict ancient Greek figures and a procession through Athens, are now housed in the British Museum in London.
Greece and Britain have long contested the ownership of the priceless carvings. Voulgarakis said that, with the upcoming opening, his government plans to “intensify efforts” towards the repatriation of the marbles.
The recent decision by a German university to restore a piece of the Parthenon to Greece has increased pressure on the British Museum. In January, Heidelberg University agreed to return a portion of the frieze that it had in its collection to Greece.
Peoples Daily Online (China) 
UPDATED: 08:09, March 22, 2006
Greece says new Acropolis museum to open in 2007
Greek Culture Minister George Voulgarakis on Tuesday announced that the first exhibition halls at the new Acropolis museum will be officially opened in spring of 2007.
The long-delayed museum, which costs 129 million euros (157 million U.S. dollars), will be completed in March 2007, he told reporters after a tour in the construction site.
“It is our ambition to have the building finished in a year from now,” he said.
Greece had said that the new museum will be finished before the 2004 Olympic Games in order to host the Parthenon masterpieces, known as Elgin marbles, which are on display in London’s British Museum, if Greece could successfully ask for their return or temporary borrowing.
Voulgarakis reiterated that Greece has at no time backed off from its demand that the British Museum in London return the Parthenon Marbles.
“We’re intensifying our efforts with a friendlier approach, as the international community now appears more receptive to such a request,” he said.
“We do not want all the antiquities that have been taken from Greece, we are just interested in the specific artifacts,” he added.