Thursday, January 8, 2009

Reunification or Dispersal: The New Acropolis Museum

Finds from the Athenian Acropolis have long been dispersed between three major collections in Athens (in addition to the old Acropolis Museum): the National Archaeological Museum, the Epigraphic Museum, and the Numismatic Museum. (This excludes some of the material from the North Slope of the Acropolis that is in the Agora Museum.)

Ta Nea (" Χάλκινοι θησαυροί βρίσκουν στέγη στο Νέο Μουσείο Ακρόπολης", December 30, 2008) [link] carried a story that there has yet to be agreement over the range of material from the three museums that will be released for display in the New Acropolis Museum. It had been hoped to transfer some 220 bronzes from the National Archaeological Museum, six hoards from the Numismatic Museum, and 43 inscriptions from the Epigraphic Museum.

The New Akropolis Museum provides an opportunity to consolidate the finds and present the archaeological remains---sculptures, bronzes, terracottas, pottery, inscriptions, coins---from this major civic sanctuary (and World Heritage site) in one place. Thus the accounts for the construction of the Parthenon could be displayed alongside other parts of the building.

Failure to resolve this issue would send out a signal that dispersal is acceptable: and that has implications for the debate about the return of the Parthenon sculptures.

© David Gill

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