Swiss architect Bernhard Tschumi has created the perfect encapsulation and institutionalization of Greek antiquity in the new Acropolis Museum. The museum's facade literally mirrors the actual Acropolis above it; glass floors allow visitors to see the archeological dig site in the earth below. Inside the 14,000 square meters of exhibition space, Greek history is traced; sight lines and staircases allow plenty of space for the artifacts to breathe. On the uppermost level, pieces from the Parthenon (some replicas) are placed as they were in antiquity. The museum provides a perfect stop to learn before (or reflect after) visiting the actual site, just a few steps away.
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Acropolis Museum, Athens
“One of my most wondrous experiences was a year or two ago at the Acropolis Museum, which is devoted to archaeology. I was invited for a 'state dinner' of sorts. Wandering the museum virtually alone was the closest I’ve been to exploring a ruin on my own. That night’s dinner took place in the middle of a fierce thunderstorm. It was amazing to look out and watch lightning hit the Acropolis while sitting among ancient Greek works.” —Fred Dust
There’s nothing old-fashioned about this archaeological museum, where cutting-edge technology is used to clean and digitally reconstruct the statues, ceramics and everyday objects unearthed around the Acropolis. Traces of ancient Athens are visible beneath reinforced glass floors. The bittersweet pièce de résistance is the Parthenon frieze, partially hacked off by Lord Elgin and sold to the British Museum. The view from the restaurant, its terrace almost touching the Parthenon, is a knockout, as is the well-priced Greek food.
By Rachel Howard, AFAR Local Expert
Must do while in Athens
Visit the Acropolis Museum first for the extensive history on this architectural wonder and see so many of the ancient artifacts found at the site. The next morning visit as early as possible to avoid the crowds and enjoy the marvelous views.
The Acropolis Museum in Athens
The long-awaited opening of the Acropolis Museum did not disappoint. With nearly 4,000 items on display from around the Acropolis, you'll do well to schedule a few hours to visit. This covers everything from the Greek bronze Age to Roman and Byzantine Greece. The museum is gorgeously laid out -- and you can top off your visit with coffee on the patio restaurant overlooking the Acropolis.
By Candice Walsh, AFAR Local Expert
New Museum. Same Greek Drama.
When you ascend through the 2,500 year-old gate at the summit of the Acropolis plateau in the heart of Athens, you’re a little breathless with anticipation. Then you come face-to-face with the megawatt magnificence of the Parthenon, with its Doric columns and sculpted frieze bathed triumphantly in soft Aegean light. You come here knowing this is going to be special, but nothing prepares you for just how special. Historically speaking, the Acropolis represents the bridge between the time of antiquity and birth of modernity. Architecturally, it is the blueprint for Western design, incorporating classic mathematical ratios cooked up by Pythagoras et al. So it was with no shortage of Greek drama that four architectural contests dating back to 1976 were required to decide on a final design of the Acropolis Museum. The $200 million facility opened in June 2009 with an outpouring of interest bordering on the second coming of Aristotle. Culture Minister Antonis Samaras called the venue: “The ultimate showcase of classical civilization.” Visitors can watch an ongoing excavation under the museum through glass floors and open viewing sections. And kudos to Swiss architect Bernard Tschumi who twisted the glass-enclosed top floor 23° off axis for the best view of the Acropolis, which would’ve messed with Pythagoras’ head something fierce.
By Greg Oates
The "New" Acropolis Museum
I felt like I was in some sort of trance while I was walking around this museum; it was so amazing to see these statues and sculptures of Gods and Goddesses that I have been intrigued by since I was young. I thought this museum was also very representative of Athens itself; thousands of years of history combined with modern architecture and technology. Note: They have a very strict "no photo" policy inside the museum.
Athens Tips Part 18 - The Acropolis Museum
The Acropolis museum is probably the nicest archaeological museum in all of Athens. That is to say that it is the cleanest, most modern, and easy to interpret. The content is very specific, items found on and around the Acropolis, but it does cover a fairly large timeframe. There isn't much to read about each piece, but there is plenty about each period, and it is very well organized. Structurally the building is fantastic and modern. The only warning I can tell you is not to wear a skirt, since the floors are made of glass. The reason for this is so you can see all the way through the museum to the dig site found bellow. The top floor of the museum is the crown jewel of the design of this building, holding pieces (and replica pieces) from the Parthenon. The top floor is built in a way to allow the sunlight to hit each piece exactly the same way as it did when they were up on the Acropolis. My only real complaint about this museum is the strict no photography rule. I've heard many different stories as to why this rule exists, but none of them seem reasonable. This however is no reason to miss the wonderful statues of the Caryatids and their mesmerizing hair.
Take the time to discover the new Acropolis Museum
The Acropolis Museum, opened in 2009, is a big achievement in the context of modern museums. Even if you are not a "museum person" (guilty) you don't want to miss this as an extension of your visit to the Acropolis. The museum is built using the same footprint as the Parthenon. It's stylish, spacious, well organized, and above all interesting, right down to the floors. Much of the flooring is glass, allowing visitors to see the excavation sites that lie beneath. Have a guide take you through so you can fully appreciate why this is one of the most important museums in the world.
Dionysiou Areopagitou 15, Athina 117 42, Greece
+30 21 0900 0900