May 21, 2009

Low admission charges for New Acropolis Museum

Posted at 5:08 pm in Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

The admission charges for the New Acropolis Museum have now been published & at one euro for the first six months, it is likely to be packed with visitors. The British Museum often makes statements about how the Parthenon Marbles there can be seen free of charge, but neglects to admit that they do charge for many other exhibits there. In the end, if an admission charge is reasonable (which even the eventual five Euro charge will be), then surely the overall visitor experience is more important than the absolute bottom line costs, especially considering that many people will have spent far large amounts to get to the museums in the first place.


Greece aims to bring back Parthenon relics from Britain
Wed May 20, 2009 6:13pm BST

ATHENS (Reuters) – Greece will open a new Acropolis Museum in June, its culture minister said Wednesday, with the aim of bringing back historical monuments currently exhibited in the British Museum in London.

Greece has campaigned for decades to retrieve the Parthenon sculptures from the British Museum and said they were an integral part of one of the world’s most important monuments, but the British Museum has refused to return the treasures.

The Acropolis museum, built below the Parthenon and the other classical age marble temples of the Acropolis, has experienced years of delay with legal battles and missed deadlines plaguing its construction.

“The new Acropolis museum is the quintessence of classical culture,” Culture Minister Antonis Samaras said.

Hundreds of foreign dignitaries, artists and academics have been invited to the June 20 official inauguration of the museum.

British Museum officials have also been invited to the lavish ceremony, expected to cost 3 million euros (2.6 million pounds).

The British Museum contains roughly half of the 160-metre frieze that adorned the 2,500-year-old temple, removed 200 years ago by Lord Elgin, then British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire which ruled Greece at the time.

The late actress, turned Culture Minister Melina Mercouri launched the return campaign and the construction of the new museum to respond to arguments that Greece had no place to put the marbles if they were returned.

The museum, which expects around 2.5 million visitors a year, met with local opposition when the government marked two historic buildings for demolition and said they were hindering the visual connection from part of the new museum with the Acropolis. The dispute remains unresolved.

One of the buildings is a prime example of art deco architecture in Athens and the other belongs to music composer Vangelis Papathanasiou of Chariots of Fire fame.

(Editing by Farah Master)

Associated Press

Acropolis Museum charges just one euro to see treasures
By Nicholas Paphitis, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

ATHENS, Greece – A month before the lavish opening ceremony for the new Acropolis Museum, Greek officials are keeping quiet on the details – other than the nearly three million euro (C$4.7 million) price tag.

But in a bid to boost visitor numbers in hard economic times, Culture Minister Andonis Samaras announced Wednesday there would be cut-price tickets for the landmark building. Greece hopes the long-delayed venue will help its campaign to regain the Elgin Marbles.

Samaras said admission will cost one euro (about $1.60) for the first six months – as much as a public bus ticket.

“We have taken into account the difficulties stemming from the global crisis,” Samaras told a news conference a month before the official inauguration, which he said international heads of state and government have been invited to attend.

“The price is unexpectedly low … but I believe that is totally necessary to allow everyone to visit the New Acropolis Museum,” Samaras said.

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.

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),” Samaras 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 new museum will contain more than 4,000 ancient works in 20,000 square metres of display space.

The highlight of the exhibition will be the top story 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 UN world heritage site.

Construction work disrupted an entire underlying neighbourhood of ancient and early Christian Athens, prompting legal wrangling. Many of these ruins have been incorporated in the museum basement and are visible through glass panels.

Museum director Dimitris Pantermalis said some excavation work would continue after the inauguration.

Greek officials have also angered architects and conservationists over a decision to demolish two century old residential buildings that obstruct part of the view of the Acropolis from the new museum.

Samaras said Wednesday the ministry is now thinking of preserving the structures’ ornamental facades and transplanting them onto new buildings to be erected near the museum.

On the Net:

New York Times

May 20, 2009, 3:42 pm
New Acropolis Museum to Open Next Month
By Anthee Carassava

The opening of the new Acropolis Museum will take place on June 20, almost five years after it was originally scheduled, the Greek Culture Minister told reporters at a news conference in Athens on Wednesday.

But with the economy weak and tourism down, the minister, Antonis Samaris, also announced that the budget for the opening ceremony had been cut by half to $4.1 million and that the museum entrance fee would be just 1 euro (about $1.30) to attract more visitors.

Mr. Samaras made a public overture to museum opponents, who object to the planned demolition of two Art Deco buildings that would block the view from the museum’s dining terrace. He said he had written to the owners, proposing that the facades of the buildings be moved about 300 feet east of their present location and used to front two new buildings. The Greek government has hoped that the new museum will eventually lead to the return of the marble sculptures that adorned the Parthenon until 1801 when Lord Elgin removed them and later sold them to the British Museum.

On Wednesday, Mr. Samaras said that trustees of the British Museum had been invited to the opening, but none of Lord Elgin’s surviving relatives. “We have no interest in his relatives,” he said.

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