Skip to main content

The New Acropolis Museum: Archaeological Material in Context

The New Acropolis Museum is due to open in Athens this week. This is a project that captures my imagination. It brings together the sculptures, inscriptions and other archaeological material from the area of the Athenian Acropolis and displays them together in a single location.

There is an ascent through the archaic sculptures dating to the sixth and early fifth centuries BCE. Statues of women, riders and scribes reflect the types of dedications that were being made in this urban sanctuary in the decades leading up to the Persian Wars. The surviving colours on the painted marble are perhaps testimony to the tidying operation that took place after the Persian destruction. Here are the architectural and sculptural remains of the early temple of Athena that was built under the Tyranny.

This display prepares the visitor for the ascent to the level where the sculptures (and casts) from the Parthenon itself are displayed. The frieze looks outwards as it would have done on the original building (and unlike the display in the Duveen Gallery in the British Museum). There is also a visual link with the Parthenon itself.

Elsewhere objects from some of the smaller sanctuaries that littered the slopes of the Acropolis are on display reminding us of the diversity of cult activity in the heart of this ancient city.

So why does this new museum capture my imagination?

It is because it gathers together archaeological material from a single area of one ancient city in one coherent display. The New Acropolis Museum is not an encyclopedic museum; there is no need for it to take that mantle. This is unashamedly an archaeological museum that presents the finds to new generations of visitors from around the world. In that sense it is a universal museum.

Image © David Gill

Comments

Liz Marlowe said…
What you say is true. Let's hope the Greeks see it that way too, and present the material as important finds from an important site, and not as sacred relics from the dawn of democracy ...
Liz Marlowe said…
What you say is true. Let's hope the Greeks see it that way too, and present the material as important finds from an important site, and not as sacred relics from the dawn of democracy ...

Popular posts from this blog

Codename: Ainsbrook

I have been watching (UK) Channel 4's Time Team this evening. The programme looked at an undisclosed field (under a potato crop) where a Viking burial had been found. The location in Yorkshire was so sensitive that it was given a codename: Ainsbrook. Here is the summary:
In late 2003 two metal detectorists were working in a field in Yorkshire. They found 'treasure' buried just beneath the surface – a collection of Viking material next to a body. Although they had been detecting on the site for a number of years, during which time they had made large numbers of finds, nothing they had uncovered previously compared with this. They decided to share their discovery with archaeologists.The programme explored the tension between metal-detectorists and the English Heritage sponsored archaeologists putting six trenches into the field based on a geo-physical survey. Finds made by the metal-detectorists did not easily map onto the archaeological features.

Part of the programme had an …

The scale of the returns to Italy

I have been busy working on an overview, "Returning Archaeological Objects to Italy". The scale of the returns to Italy from North American collections and galleries is staggering: in excess of 350 objects. This is clearly the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the material that has surfaced on the market without a history that can be traced back to the period before 1970. 

I will provide more information in due course, but the researcher is a reminder that we need to take due diligence seriously when it comes to making acquisitions.

Stele returns to Greece

The Hellenic Ministry of Culture has announced (Saturday 8 September 2018) that a stele that had been due to be auctioned at Sotheby's in London in June 2017 has been returned to Greece (Friday 7 September 2018). The identification had been made by Cambridge-based forensic archaeologist Dr Christos Tsirogiannis.

It appeared that the stele had been supplied with a falsified history as its presence with Becchina until 1990 contradicted the published sale catalogue entry. It then moved into the hands of George Ortiz.

A year ago it was suggested that Sotheby's should contact the Greek authorities. Those negotiations appear to have concluded successfully.

The 4th century BC stele fragment, with the personal name, Hestiaios, will be displayed in the Epigraphic Museum in Athens. It appears to have come from a cemetery in Attica.