Greece to open long-awaited new Acropolis Museum

Thu Jun 18, 2009 2:20pm EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Dina Kyriakidou

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece opens the gates of the long-awaited Acropolis Museum on Saturday, hoping the modern glass and concrete building will help bring back the Classical Parthenon sculptures from Britain.

Dignitaries from around the world will attend the ceremony at the foot of the Acropolis, the epitome of the Golden Age of Athens, and visitors can begin touring some of the world's most stunning art for 1 euro ($1.40) from Sunday.

"This museum is a catalyst for the repatriation of the marbles that were plundered 200 years ago," Culture Minister Antonis Samaras told reporters.

Greece has campaigned for decades to get back the carvings removed from the Parthenon in 1806 by Lord Elgin, then British ambassador to the Ottoman empire. Among British Museum arguments was that Greece had no proper place to put them and the Acropolis Museum now addresses that.

"This is a symbol of modern Greece which pays homage to its past ... the duty of a nation to its cultural heritage," Samaras said.

The 14,000 square meter (150,000 square foot) museum will be able to host over 10,000 visitors a day.

Plagued by protests and bureaucratic delays for decades, the museum designed by architect Bernard Tschumi exploits natural light and boasts panoramic views of the Greek capital from almost every hall.

Planned to remind visitors of the 5th century BC monument visible across the street, its top floor layout mimics the main temple of the Acropolis, the Parthenon, whose 2,500-year-old sculptures are displayed with the missing pieces clearly marked.   Continued...

<p>Two 1st-3rd century AD. terracotta statues are on display at the entrance of the new Acropolis museum in Athens June 17, 2009. The museum will open its gates to the public on June 20. REUTERS/Yiorgos Karahalis</p>