THE FABULOUS ACROPOLIS MUSEUM
Source: Unique Destination
Greece is absolutely interwoven with the image of Acropolis, the most important political and religious centre of ancient Athens. The majestic monument lasted through the centuries and still deeply enchants those who visit it. Every object found on the sacred rock and its slopes was carefully gathered and is today housed in the new modern Acropolis Museum. This top destination is located at the foot of the Acropolis, at the archaeological site of Makrigianni, covering an area of 14,000 square meters. In total, about 4,000 objects are exhibited, covering a wide period of time, from Mycenaean to Roman and Early Christian historical periods. With the help of technology, the centuries-old history of Athens is beautifully presented step by step, indulging the visitors into the magic of classical era.
A day at the Museum
After crossing the antechamber of the ground floor and passing through the ticket cancellation machines, the visitor will find himself in front of the first exhibition area of the Acropolis Museum. In this spacious room with the sloping glass floor, one can admire exhibits discovered on the slopes of the Acropolis hill. On the left side of the room, there are findings from the great sanctuaries founded on the slopes of the Rock, while on the right hand side one can view exhibits from the smaller sanctuaries and from the settlement that had developed on the slopes of the Acropolis. These exhibits allow for the first, fascinating acquaintance with the ancient sanctuaries and the rituals associated with them. The imposing glass staircase at the end of the hall inevitably catches one’s eye. On top of it, the great architectural sculptures of the pediment of Hekatombe, the first great temple of goddess Athena, on the Acropolis, are exhibited.
In the Hall of Archaic Works one can admire the exhibits from all sides as they stand, for the first time, freely in space. The cleverly created conditions of the spontaneously changing natural light that floods the museum enable visitors to observe and discover the fine qualities of the sculptures and the high level of art that produced them.
Moreover, it is impossible not to be impressed with the beautiful vision of the archaic works in-between the columns of the hall, which were purposely built to imply the architectural landscape of the Acropolis. On the second floor of the Museum, there is a restaurant. You can get there by stairs, escalators or lifts. From this open space, one can enjoy a panoramic view of the Archaic Works Hall and the Ballroom. From the restaurant, the route leads the visitors to the patio of the Parthenon Hall, where is the opportunity to watch a video presenting the Parthenon and its sculptural decoration. In the same hall, there is a display of ancient inscriptions that provide detailed records of the construction of the Parthenon and the statue of Athena Parthenos (Virgin Athena). Through them, one can draw information and thus palpitate how the democratic institutions of the city used to operate in the 5th century BC. Following the route, one is led back to the first floor where, on the west and north sides of the hall, there is a display of unique antiquity works that were originally copied by later artists from antiquity to modern times.
Additionally, one can for the first time, admire the frames of the roof of the Propylaea, the sculptures of the frieze of the Temple of Athena Nike and the sculptures of the Erechtheion, including the famous Caryatids (women-like columns). Finally, one descends from the imposing staircase, crosses through the Ballroom Hall once again and finishes at the exit of the Museum.
President of this exceptional Museum is the honorary Professor of Archeology of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Mr. Dimitrios Pandermalis, whom we thank for the short tour that he gave us while answering our questions.
Mr. Pandermalis, what was the Acropolis of Athens and what were the main buildings on the Sacred Rock?
The Acropolis was the political and religious center of ancient Athens. It reached its first great peak and became universally famous with the architectural marvels built by Athenian democracy in the 6th century BC. The most important of these buildings are the Parthenon, the Erechtheion, the Temple of Athena Nike and the Propylaea.
How many times has it been destroyed or renovated over the centuries?
The worst destruction of the Acropolis was when the Persians burned the city of Athens in 480 BC. Following this catastrophe, the Rock remained a ruin for several years until, in the middle of the 5th century BC. the ambitious building program of Pericles’ democracy was implemented. It was then when most of the important monuments that the visitor sees today were built.
What was revealed in the foundations of the museum and what do we see under the glass floor when entering?
During the excavation for the foundations of the Museum, an indicative portion of ancient Athens was discovered including buildings dating from 5th century BC, up to 7th century AD. These were private homes, streets, shops and workshops.
What is exhibited on each floor of the Museum?
In the hall with the reclining floor on the ground floor of the Museum, one may find exhibits from the sanctuaries and houses that were located at the foot of the Acropolis. The southern part of the first floor displays exhibits from the Archaic period, while on the balcony on the same floor, guests can admire the famous Caryatids. In the northern part of the first floor there are parts of buildings and sculptures from the post-Parthenon era, namely from the 5th century BC. until the 5th century AD. The Museum’s exhibition culminates on the third floor, which was specifically designed to welcome the sculptures of the Parthenon. The exhibition combines original marble sculptures with plaster replicas of those missing and which are currently in the British Museum or other museums and collections abroad.
Please elaborate for us on the lighting of the exhibits. It is for the first time, that Museum lighting of masterpieces was attempted on a large scale by using the natural light. It enters the halls through the glass panes and the illuminators, thus exposing the exhibits in a unique, natural way.
How much did the technology help you and in which fields?
Modern digital technology was used by the Museum primarily for the reproduction of some works to which the ancient colors and copper parts were added digitally.
How many tourists visit the museum each year?
The Museum has managed to welcome more than 1.500.000 visitors per year, which proves that it meets most of the visitors’ expectations.