Issue 07, January 2008
homepage > The New Acropolis Museum: Panel discussion in the Olympic Tower
The New Acropolis Museum:
Presentation in the affiliated
Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation
in New York

The New Acropolis Museum: The arduous course from design to completion was the heading of the second and last presentation cycle of the New Acropolis Museum that took place in the Onassis Cultural Center in New York, on October 17th 2007. It was the same place that four years before had hosted an exhibition of architectural designs and models of the new museum as well as exhibits from the collections of the Acropolis Museum (March 6th – April 9th, 2003).

By Kalliopi Christofi
 
 

In a packed lecture hall in the Onassis Affiliate Foundation, Professor Dimitris Pandermalis, President of the Organization for the Construction of the New Acropolis Museum, Bernard Tschumi, the French-Swiss architect who was inspired with the architectural design of the museum, and Hugh Dutton, CEO of HAD, the company that took over in its entirety the installation of the building’s glass façade, presented the new museum, each from the standpoint of their respective field. The museum is a reality for the city of Athens.

Aerial photography of the New Acropolis Museum
Aerial photography of the New Acropolis Museum

The New Acropolis Museum is the result of the harmonic collaboration between three fields; Archaeology, Architecture and Decoration. History has met with technology in the construction of this museum which bears vast significance for culture. This was the conclusion reached by all three speakers with regard to this momentous work, which could not have been completed without their contribution.

From left, the architects Hugh Dutton and Bernard Tschumi with Professor Dimitri Pandermalis
From left, the architects Hugh Dutton and Bernard Tschumi with Professor Dimitri Pandermalis

As pointed out by architect Bernard Tschumi in his presentation, the work featured various constraints in terms of architecture due to three basic reasons: firstly, they were dealing with the construction of a building located just 300m. away from the Parthenon; secondly, they had to cooperate with archaeologists who, given the nature of their profession, forbid you to touch, not to mention move, anything within the archaeological site; and thirdly, abiding always by older specifications, the building of a museum should blend in with its surroundings, a rather challenging task since Athens is a city with centuries of history.

Professor Dimitris Pandermalis made a reference to the successful completion of the project, as well as to the new archaeological reality it has established for Greece. It is now possible not only to demonstrate accurately the different historical stages of the Acropolis but also to focus more on the return of the Parthenon Marbles.
The professor extended warm thanks specifically to the Homogeny for bracing this attempt right from the start, as well as for their incessant support in the return of the Parthenon Marbles.

Open-air space surrounding the building
Open-air space surrounding the building

The New Acropolis Museum rests at the foot of the Acropolis rock and provides direct view to the Sacred Rock. The minimalistic design, the distinct geometrical shapes and the transparent materials compose a modern museum of 14,000m2; a three storey building of glass construction supported by pillars and covering a total area of 23,000m2. The ground floor, through its transparent glass sections, allows visitors to gaze at the excavation site and the archaeological remains exposed during construction works, and includes temporary exhibition spaces and support facilities. The middle floor, a large trapezoidal hall, will accommodate the permanent exhibits from the Archaic Era to Roman Empire.

Slide projection by Bernard Tschumi talking to a large audience
Slide projection by Bernard Tschumi talking to a large audience

It also includes a multimedia auditorium and a bar-restaurant overlooking the Acropolis. Finally, the last floor will host the sensational Parthenon Gallery which, thanks to its location at the top of the building, features natural lighting and covers 3,200m2 creating, thus, the impression to visitors that they are standing on the Sacred Rock. This gallery will display Pheidias and his students’ sculptures. The orientation of the marbles will be identical to their initial placement in the monument centuries ago, conveying to visitors the exact context of the temple.

The New Museum, an international museological model, equal to the masterpieces it will host, will be fully functional by 2009. The Parthenon Gallery will be the first to be inaugurated at the beginning of 2008 gradually followed by the rest of the display areas and exhibitions.

 
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