Acropolis Museum

The Athens Acropolis Museum is one of the finest in the city and all the world. Its importance as a main holding site for so many of the excavated sculptures from the Acropolis has led to a certain bit of controversy in the past. In the early 1800"s, an Englishman named Thomas Bruce, who was coincidentally the seventh Earl of Elgin, made a trip to Athens with the sole intent of finding some historic pieces from the country that he could display in his native London. Greece was then under control of the Ottoman Empire, and the Turkish Sultan happened to be a friend of the Earl. For a small fee, Bruce was allowed to basically take whatever he wanted, and so he proceeded to loot much of the Acropolis, including idols from the Parthenon. Today, the Greek government wants the items to be returned to Athens, where many, if not most, believe that the items should be housed in the Acropolis Museum. The “stolen” pieces that Bruce took are now housed in the British Museum of London, and they are referred to as Elgin’s Marbles.

The current Acropolis Museum is actually scheduled to move to a new sight and hopefully open sometime soon. Work is being finished on the New Acropolis Museum, and it will have more room to house the museum’s growing collection. The new Athens Acropolis Museum will be found just 800 feet from the old one, and it is being built with an exclusive section for the return of Elgin’s Marbles to Athens. The original Athens Acropolis Museum was built between 1865-1874, and it was designed by Panages Kalkos. In the 1950"s, the museum would be expanded by another Greek architect, Patroklos Karantinos, who was quite renowned at the time.

The old Acropolis Museum had nine galleries that were arranged in chronological order. They galleries displayed artifacts that had gone un-noticed for centuries. When the Persians invaded Athens in 480 BC, they stormed the Acropolis and destroyed much of its treasures. Once the Athenians regained control they proceeded to hide many of the existing ruins in and among the rocks of the Acropolis. Whereas looting and further disasters to the Acropolis depleted much of what lay on top, the hidden treasures would eventually be excavated and result in the need for the Acropolis Museum. Many of the museum’s best artifacts come from the Parthenon, the Temple of Athena Nike, the Propylae, the Erechtheum and other sites, including the Odeon of Herodes Atticus and the Theatre of Dionysus. Pieces found at the Athens Acropolis Museum date back to 600 BC, and some were possibly pieces of the Old Temple of Athena.

The New Acropolis Museum is being built from plans by Bernard Tshumi, and will be located by the site of the Acropolis. There will be a glass gallery awaiting the return of the Elgin Marbles, and it is designed to house the marbles to their original dimension on the Parthenon. The glass gallery will look to the Parthenon, and the marbles will be placed as to appear how they would on the Parthenon when you look at it above you. It is believed that this will help give insight into how impressive the Parthenon was when it had the marbles in place. The plan is to again arrange the rest of the collection in a chronological flow, and part of the new building will be reserved for a new exhibit featuring items from excavations that cover the 3rd, 4th and 7th century.

The New Acropolis Museum will be built using mostly glass and marble, with some parts set in pre-cast concrete. The idea is to appropriately fit the new building into the look of its surrounding city and monuments. As the Athens Acropolis Museum houses primarily the stone sculptures and artifacts found on the Acropolis, you can head to the National Archaeological Museum in Athens to find the bulk of the vases and bronze items. The National Archaeological Museum houses artifacts from not only the Acropolis, but from around the entire country. Although the New Acropolis Museum was originally scheduled to open in time for the 2004 Olympics, the process has been delayed numerous times by planning objections and other situations. Due to the fact that the new Acropolis Museum is not yet opened, it remains to be seen what hours and days the museum will be open and how much it will cost to get in.



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