Petit Futé's opinion on ACROPOLIS MUSEUM
A first architecture competition was launched in 1976. Ten years later, Mélina Mercouri relaunched the project, as part of her campaign and to provide a worthy setting for the friezes of the Parthenon in Greece. While serving as British ambassador to Constantinople, Lord Elgin (1766-1841) had indeed landed some of the most beautiful treasures of the Parthenon, which are still on display today at the British Museum, which has "custody" of them and is still opposed to their return. In 2000, the Agency for the Construction of the New Acropolis Museum organised a new call for tenders within the framework of the European Union. It should have been completed for the 2004 Olympic Games, but it was worth the wait. Designed by the Franco-Swiss architect Bernard Tschumi, the new Acropolis Museum finally opened its doors in June 2009 after several years of work.
This gigantic structure of glass, steel and concrete is in direct visual contact with the sacred rock. Its bay windows skillfully reflect the Acropolis, visible almost throughout the visit and especially on the terrace of its wonderful café. As soon as they arrive, visitors discover the city's archaeological remains on stilts and in the basement. The collections are then organized into five themes: the slopes of the Acropolis, the Archaic Acropolis, the Parthenon, the monuments of the Classical Acropolis and the "other collections". Everywhere, the building uses natural light to highlight its approximately 4,000 rooms.
On the ground floor, the museum includes an exhibition level of Acropolis antiquities, remains of ancient Athens, which attest to an occupation from the end of the Neolithic period (ca. 3000 BC). On the first floor, there are objects from the archaic period and the period following the construction of the Parthenon, including two lionesses pulling the god Taurus and a statue representing "Triton and the three-body monster".
On the second floor, a multimedia centre distributes documentaries. It should be noted that you can also access without a ticket (and without queuing either if you don't want to visit anything else) the large terrace opening onto the Acropolis, which houses a pleasant shaded café-restaurant.
On the third floor, the visit ends in a climax in the Parthenon Hall, designed to restore the dimensions and orientation of the Parthenon. It features the famous frieze, at least what is left of it in Greece. Originally, this masterful 160 m long sculptural composition consisted of 115 blocks: it included 378 figures, human or divine, and more than 200 animals (mainly horses). By "reconstructing" the puzzle of the Parthenon frieze, the Acropolis Museum elegantly reminds us that only one third of the remains found are on display here. Indeed, the remaining two thirds, soberly stamped "BM", remind us that most of it is still held by the British Museum in London (even if some fragments are also scattered in other European institutions, including the Louvre). For the small - and the great - history, with the enhancement of the Acropolis and the construction of this sumptuous museum, the Greeks hope one day to recover their friezes. The British Museum continues to hide behind its property titles...
Information on ACROPOLIS MUSEUM
From April 1st to October 31st: Monday from 8am to 4pm, Tuesday to Sunday from 8am to 8pm, Friday from 8am to 10pm. Admission: 5 €.
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