Wednesday, 11 June 2008

GREECE TRIP - DAY 11b - 7th June 2008

We wandered through the Plaka and all around the Acropolis, gradually making our way to the new Acropolis Museum at the foot of the Sacred Rock. The design by Swiss-born Bernard Tschumi was selected as the winning project in the second competition for the design of the New Acropolis Museum. Tschumi's design revolves around three concepts: light, movement, and a tectonic and programmatic element, which together "turn the constraints of the site into an architectural opportunity, offering a simple and precise museum" with the mathematical and conceptual clarity of ancient Greek buildings. The construction of the museum started on November 2004 and provides 14,000 square meters of exhibition space. This is in contrast with the old museum on the Rock, which had 1,450 square meters of exhibition space.

The base of the museum design 'hovers' over the existing archaeological excavations on sturdy pillars. This level contains the entrance lobby as well as temporary exhibition spaces, retail space, and all support facilities. Glass floors allow the visitor to view the excavations below the museum. The middle is a large, double-height, trapezoidal hall that accommodates all galleries from the Archaic period to the Roman Empire. A mezzanine level includes a bar and restaurant with views toward the Acropolis, and a multimedia auditorium. The top comprises the rectangular Parthenon Gallery arranged around an indoor court. The glass enclosure of the gallery provides ideal light for sculpture in direct view of the historical reference point of the Acropolis. The Parthenon Marbles will be displayed in the gallery so as to be visible from the Acropolis above. The design of the enclosure is intended to protect both the sculptures and visitors against excessive heat and light, and makes use of state-of-the-art glass technology. The orientation of the Marbles will be exactly as it was at the Parthenon centuries ago, and their setting will provide an unprecedented context for understanding the accomplishments of the Parthenon complex itself.

We visited the open areas of the museum and were appreciative of its design and conceptual scale. When it finally opens it will be an amazing exhibition space and worthy of the art treasures it will contain.

We had arranged to meet up with our friends Stella and George in the afternoon at their house in Aegaleo. We took the bus there and there was much rejoicing as we caught up with them and shared our news. We spent an hour or so talking and then played some cards, while waiting for the heat of the afternoon to abate and the evening to come before going out to dinner. Seeing it was my birthday, I was to take them out to dinner in one of the restaurants in the main square of Aegaleo.

It was a very pleasant evening and we all enjoyed ourselves until late, having dessert in one of the patisseries next to the restaurant. We took a taxi back to the hotel and arranged to meet our friends again next week.

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