By Iota Sykka
The financial woes plaguing the Greek people are also reflected in the way the country’s state and private museums are focusing their efforts on organizing low-budget exhibitions and affordable events and activities. These are also aimed at reminding the public of the institutions’ existence and scope.
While state museums are having to cope with shortages in terms of both funding and staff, as well as restricted opening hours, private cultural institutions are coming up with novel ways to urge both the public and their sponsors to participate more actively in their activities.
The Acropolis Museum is currently operating on its new winter schedule: Doors open until 8 p.m. on weekends and 10 p.m. on Fridays, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. The museum’s restaurant operates according to the same hours, with the exception of Fridays, when it stays open until midnight.
Meanwhile, the museum is coming up with new ways to broaden its activities. At the institution’s art workshops archaeologists and conservators will introduce visitors to ancient technology and artworks, the production of museum replicas as well as a series of lab applications to shed light on the museum’s exhibits. At the same time, the museum is preparing a temporary show on the subject of the Parthenon’s construction.
“As the crisis deepens, more people are turning to museums, considering them an ideal place for a rewarding yet low-budget weekend visit,” said Dr Anastasia Lazaridou, director of the Byzantine and Christian Museum, who is currently finalizing the museum’s schedule for 2014, its centennial. The museum is planning a series of archaeological exhibitions and working on a number of collaborations with international cultural institutions. Meanwhile, “The Art of Binding” exhibition has been extended to run to February 24, while visitors will also have a chance to see objects which appear in the museum’s 2013 calendar, “Kipos kai Paradeisos” (Garden and Heaven), in a show exploring the idea of paradise. Also coming up at the Byzantine and Christian Museum is an exhibition on Serbian monuments as well as another on Messina in Sicily, and a tribute to conservator-artist Fotis Sarris.
The Antikythera Shipwreck is attracting large numbers of visitors to the National Archaeological Museum in an exhibition which has also been granted an extension until the summer. At the same time, the museum’s director, Dr Giorgos Kakavas, is working on various activities which he hopes will bring visitors to the Patission Street institution on a more regular basis, including special events and performances.
At the Cycladic Museum of Art, where the “Princesses of the Mediterranean at the Dawn of History” exhibit is currently on display, Professor Nikolaos Stambolidis, the institution’s director, is busy working on a challenging new project: “Past-Beyond,” an exhibition that is being planned for fall. The show, which will explore concepts of life after death through ancient burial rituals, will be presented in both Athens and New York in collaboration with the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation.
The Benaki Museum is winning over local audiences through a series of guided tours led by its experienced curators, who share behind-the-scenes stories about its collections every Thursday. At the same time a series of exhibitions will go on display at the institution’s Pireos Street annex. These include an exhibition on contemporary Norwegian architecture, a show on Crete-based Swiss photographer Charles Weber and a tribute to artist Yiannis Adamakos, among others.
Battling the current adversity, the museum’s director, Dr Angelos Delivorias, also hopes to host a large-scale retrospective exhibition-tribute to sculptor Memos Makris (1913-93). The exhibition will include more than 100 works stemming from Greek, Hungarian and French collections and is being planned for December.