June 22, 2009

The New Acropolis Museum opens to the public

Posted at 1:24 pm in Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

Following the official opening of the New Acropolis Museum, it is now fully open to the public for the first time. At present, due to high demand all tickets have to be booked in advance, although by the end of the week there will also be some tickets going on sale every day.

Associated Press

Greece’s New Acropolis Museum opens to visitors
1 day ago

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — The new Acropolis Museum opened its gates Sunday to hundreds of visitors eager to explore its vast collection of sculptures and artifacts from ancient Greece.

The museum holds more than 4,000 ancient works, including some of the best surviving classical sculptures that once adorned the Acropolis.

The public opening came a day after a lavish ceremony attended by foreign dignitaries including European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, UNESCO Director-General Koichiro Matsuura, and foreign heads of state and government.

Conspicuously, there were no government officials from Britain, which has repeatedly refused to repatriate dozens of 2,500-year-old sculptures from the Parthenon temple that are held in the British Museum.

About 200 visitors had lined up early before the official opening on Sunday, even though they had all pre-booked their tickets online. The first week — with the exception of a few tickets available for Friday — is already completely sold out through Internet sales.

Chryssa Salamanou, from Athens, was first through the doors onto the museum grounds, along with her husband and child.

“We felt that today, with our child, we had to be the first ones here to admire the masterpieces which finally found such a worthy, such an important home,” she said.

Paige Moore, a visitor from Houston, Texas, said she was very excited to see the museum on the first day.

“I’ve been waiting for the last couple of months to come. And so I timed it just so I could come to this,” Moore said.

Once inside, visitors were impressed both by the exhibits and the layout of the ultramodern building, which includes a glass hall designed to showcase all the surviving Parthenon sculptures in their original alignment.

The Greek government hopes that the euro130 million ($180 million) concrete and glass museum will reinforce the case for the return of the sculptures pried off the Parthenon in the 19th century by British diplomat Lord Elgin and currently displayed in London’s British Museum.

The museum’s top floor displays the section of the frieze that Elgin’s agents left behind, joined to plaster casts of the 90-odd works in London. The display is deliberately set to reinforce the fact that there are missing pieces.

Entry to the museum is set at a nominal charge of euro1 ($1.40) until the end of the year, when it will increase to euro5. According to the museum’s management, a typical visit could take up to three hours, not including possible stops for food and refreshments.
On the Net:

* Acropolis Museum: http://www.theacropolismuseum.gr

Kathimerini (English Edition)

Monday June 22, 2009 – Archive
Visitors flock to new museum

Visitors from a number of other countries as well as Greeks went to see the displays at the New Acropolis Museum yesterday, its first day open to the public. The museum will be open every day except Mondays and public holidays. Tickets will be priced at 1 euro until the end of this year, after which they are due to rise to 5 euros.

Thousands of people visited the New Acropolis Museum yesterday, the first day that it was open to the public after Greece had used the opening ceremony on Saturday as an opportunity to state its case for the return of the Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum.

Up to 10,000 people who had booked their 1-euro tickets online were expected to walk through the doors of the museum between 8 a.m and 8 p.m. Until tomorrow, only visitors who have booked their tickets via the www.theacropolismuseum.gr website will be able to view the 4,000 exhibits on display. The first week is almost sold out.

According to The Associated Press, Chryssa Salamanou from Athens was the first through the doors with her husband and child. “We felt that today, with our child, we had to be the first ones to admire the masterpieces which finally found such a worthy, such an important home,” she said.

For many visitors, the main attraction was the museum’s top floor, where sections of the Parthenon frieze left in Athens have been joined with plaster casts of the works that Lord Elgin removed more than 200 years ago and took to London.

Greece’s desire for their return was at the heart of much of what was said and done during Saturday’s ceremony, when some 400 dignitaries were guided through the museum, as the pressure on Britain to return the sculptures was ratcheted up.

“It is time to heal the wounds of the monument with the return of the Marbles that belong to it,” said President Karolos Papoulias. “They are our pride and our identity.”

Culture Minister Antonis Samaras said the Marbles were in “enforced exile,” which is “not just an injustice to us Greeks but to everyone in the world, the English included, because they were made to be seen in sequence and in their entirety.”

Athens News Agency

Grand opening of New Acropolis Museum

The New Acropolis Museum was officially inaugurated on Saturday evening during a nationally televised and web-broadcast ceremony that brought together Greece’s political leadership and scores of international dignitaries, boosting hopes that the purpose-built museum’s opening will mark the “reverse countdown” for the long-sought return of the Parthenon Marbles.

In one of the most poignant moments of the evening, Prof. Dimitris Pantermalis, the director of the new state-of-the-art facility, pointed to numerous mutilated sculptures on display in the third-storey Parthenon Gallery, sculptures whose other half is found at the British Museum in London. Instead, white-coloured plaster replicas depict the missing friezes in the New Acropolis Museum most celebrated gallery.

Pantermalis personally gave a guided tour of the 25,000-square-metre museum to international dignitaries, including EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura, who addressed the ceremony, as well as to Greece’s leadership.

“Today, the whole world can see, all together, the most significant sculptures of the Parthenon. Some are missing. Now is the time to heal the monument’s wounds with the return of the marbles to where they belong … their natural setting,” Greek President Karolos Papoulias said in addressing the international audience and television viewers across the country.

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis emphasised that the new 130-million-euro museum belongs to all of humanity and forms part of the world’s cultural heritage.

“In the sacred hill of the Acropolis the world views the forms that ecumenical and eternal ideals take. In the New Acropolis Museum the world can now ascertain these forms, these ideals, reuniting them and allowing them to regain their radiance … Welcome to a Greece of civilisation and history; together we are inaugurating a museum for the supreme monument of the Classical civilisation: the Acropolis Museum,” Karamanlis said, while again referring to his namesake and uncle, Greek statesman Constantine Karamanlis, along with iconic Greek actress and culture minister Melina Mercouri, as protagonists in the decades-long campaign to build the new museum.

“The Acropolis Museum is a reality for all Greeks; for all the people of the world. It is a modern monument, open, luminous and is harmoniously intertwined with Parthenon itself. It permits the Attica sun to shed its light on the ancient works of culture and allows the visitor to enjoy and appreciate the details of the exhibits. This modern monument narrates the history of democracy, art, rituals and everyday life. It succeeds in harmonically linking antiquity with the modern world of the technology and imagery. That’s why pioneering,” Karamanlis told the audience of dignitaries, which included lead architects Bernard Tschumi and Michael Photiadis.

On his part, Greek Culture Minister Antonis Samaras opened his address by expressing optimism that “the (pieces) that are not here today, those that were separated and carted off 207 years ago will return. They will certainly return; the Parthenon and its sculptures were the victims of plunder. This crime can, today, can be corrected. The museum serves as the moral force to invite them back; to reunite them,” he stressed.

In attendance were all of the country’s past presidents, along with leaders from Cyprus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, Slovakia, Finland, Montenegro, Vietnam and China, together with 21 foreign ministers from all over the world.

The tour of the Museum, with includes more than 4,000 exhibits spread over 14,000 square metres of exhibition space, began at 8:30 p.m. (local time) from the ground floor level and the first hall, which hosts exhibits (parts of pottery mostly) of a Neolithic settlement once located on the Acropolis’ slopes.

Fragments of pottery dating to the 3rd century BC and believed to be from a foundation-laying ceremony of Classical antiquity were on display in a glass-covered crypt in the main concourse, with PM Karamanlis handing an intact pottery vessel to a museum official who placed it inside the crypt before it was encased with the glass cover.

Prof. Pantermalis then officially inaugurated the museum with a phrase in ancient Greek, “the Athenian goddess resides here. No evil may enter”.


22 Jun 2009
The First Visitors to the “Shrine” of Ancient Greece

Following the official opening, which was marked by the claim for the return of the Parthenon Marbles, the New Acropolis Museum opened Sunday morning its doors to the public. Brandishing their tickets for a journey through time and place, Greek and foreign visitors enter the New Acropolis Museum to marvel at the unique exhibits. Symmetry and austerity, as well as the deafening silences of the statues make visitors feel enthusiasm and awe.

The tickets for the first three days were sold out in just a few hours, while their distribution took place through the e-ticketing service of the museum. There will be free touring in the first three days.

As of Wednesday 24 June, visitors can buy their tickets both online and from the museum’s box office. The museum will be open to visitors from 8am to 8pm, except Mondays.

For Information

The museum’s information office is located on the ground floor, near the box offices. For more information dial +30 210-9000901 or visit the museum’s website http://www.theacropolismuseum.gr/.

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