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New Acropolis Museum to open in September

More coverage of the planned opening date [1] for the New Acropolis Museum.

From:
Athens News Agency [2]

02/21/2008
Sioufas tours new Acropolis Museum

Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas toured the new Acropolis Museum on Wednesday and congratulated all the Greek governments from 1976 onwards for their efforts to build such a venue.

Sioufas, who was offered a guided tour of the museum by Culture Minister Mihalis Liapis, was accompanied by members of the parliament’s standing committee on cultural and educational affairs.

The parliament president stated that he was “overwhelmed” by the new museum, stressing that it “constitutes a reference point for culture worldwide”. He also thanked the archaeological academic community and all those, Greeks and foreign scholars, who contributed to the realisation of the endeavour.

Liapis stated that the museum is modern, functional and secure, and that the transfer of antiquities from the old museum will be completed in roughly a month. He added that the formal inauguration of the museum will take place in early autumn.

Liapis described the new museum as a “national wager” for the repatriation of the Parthenon Marbles.

From:
CBC News (Canada) [3]

Greece says long-delayed new Acropolis museum will open in September
Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2008 | 2:44 PM ET
Canadian Press: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

ATHENS, Greece – A long-delayed new museum in Athens where Greece hopes to reunite its ancient Acropolis masterpieces with Britain’s Elgin Marbles will open in September, officials said Wednesday.

Culture Minister Michalis Liapis said finishing the glass and concrete building was a “national challenge” and would boost Greece’s campaign to wrest the 5th century B.C. sculptures from the British Museum.

“We will inaugurate the new museum in September,” he said. “This modern, functional and safe museum will be a strong argument against those who oppose the Marbles’ return.”

The Elgin Marbles – or Parthenon Sculptures – were removed from the Parthenon temple by Scottish diplomat Lord Elgin in the 19th century, when Greece was still an unwilling part of the Ottoman empire. The museum in London has repeatedly rejected Greek calls for their return.

Liapis said a delicate operation to transfer hundreds of priceless statues and thousands of smaller pieces from the old museum on top of the Acropolis hill to the new building would be finished by the end of March.

The $190-million museum was initially scheduled for completion in 2004 but was delayed by legal wrangling and archeological discoveries on the central Athens plot at the foot of the Acropolis.

Museum director Dimitris Pantermalis said the focal point of the exhibition, sculptures from the Parthenon that escaped removal to Britain and other European countries, would soon be placed in its final position in a glass hall at the top of the building.

“In a few weeks we will complete the trial installation of copies. which will help us resolve all issues regarding the display, and will then replace them with the originals,” he said.

The Parthenon was built between 447-432 BC in honour of Athena, ancient Athens’ patron goddess, and was decorated with hundreds of sculpted figures of gods and participants in a religious procession. About half of the surviving works are now in London.

Designed by U.S.-based architect Bernard Tschumi in collaboration with Greece’s Michalis Photiadis, the new Acropolis museum will contain more than 4,000 works, 10 times the number on display in the old museum.

From:
CBC News (Canada) [4]

Greece promises fall opening for much delayed Acropolis Museum
Last Updated: Wednesday, February 20, 2008 | 4:38 PM ET
CBC News

Greece’s long-awaited new Acropolis Museum will open this fall, cultural officials pledged on Wednesday.

The opening of the new glass-and-concrete facility at the foot of the Acropolis in Athens has suffered myriad delays over the past few years.

“We will inaugurate the new museum in September,” Greek Culture Minister Michalis Liapis told reporters.

Greece has long touted the new museum as a strong argument for the British Museum to return the Parthenon Marbles, the famed sculptures the U.K.’s Lord Elgin removed from the site in the early 19th century.

Over the years, the London museum has repeatedly rejected calls for the Marbles to be returned to Greece, citing — among other reasons — the lack of a proper facility to display the intricate ancient carvings.

Regardless, the design of the Acropolis Museum includes a specific, top-floor gallery awaiting the Marbles upon their repatriation.

“This modern, functional and safe museum will be a strong argument against those who oppose the Marbles’ return,” Liapis said.

The building of a new, larger museum in the historic and extremely popular tourist area had been a project floating around for decades, but ramped up in recent years, especially after Athens was named host of the 2004 Olympics.

At one point, the new facility was slated to open in time for the 2004 Summer Games but legal disputes and the discovery of new archeological artifacts in the area have contributed to the many postponements during the past four years.

Since last summer, technicians have been engaged in transferring more than 300 ancient sculptures and thousands of other smaller treasures from the old Acropolis museum and temples in the area to the new museum.

The delicate operation is expected to be completed by the end of March, Liapis said.

Designed by U.S. architect Bernard Tschumi in conjunction with Greece’s Michael Photiades, the new facility — now estimated to have cost about $190 million US — will have 10 times the exhibition room of its predecessor and showcase many works rarely seen before for lack of display space.
With files from the Associated Press