Renovation in view of Olympics

The New Year came laden with good omens for the National Museum of Contemporary Art as the renovation works on the former FIX brewery on Syngrou Avenue were put into high gear once more. After many months of delay, the museum was finally given a 50-year lease on the building by its official owner Attiko Metro, and a tender for the architectural company that will handle the renovation is now underway. The museum’s plans foresee the development of a 2,500 sq.m. exhibition space by the summer of 2004 – in time for the museum to host an exhibition titled «Intercultures» for the duration of the Olympic Games. The architectural tender is an international one and is being carried out in two phases. The first phase is to establish the ground rules of eligibility for individual architectural firms or consortiums to submit a tender. In the second phase, the group or groups selected will have until January 29 to submit their preliminary studies and the authorities will decide on the winner of the tender. The museum hopes to have reached a decision by late spring. Tight deadlines are being set so that work can begin as soon as possible. «We are trying to save time by any means possible,» said the museum’s director, Anna Kafetsi. «We have decided not to tear down the whole of the building’s interior as was originally planned, while all the work on the building’s static structures will proceed despite the architectural tender. We have just received the second part of the structural study and hope to start reinforcing the building’s static structures by April. We want the architectural contractor to find this ready,» adds the director. If all goes according to plan, the museum should be ready for the Games. «We are doing the best we can to have the area ready by July 2004. This is one of the terms we are setting for the architectural companies. We are also hoping to exhibit the museum’s permanent collection, as well as ‘Intercultures’ by the time of the Games,» explains Kafetsi. However, things are looking somewhat gloomy as far as the exterior of the building is concerned. «If we are not 100-percent ready [by July 2004], we are already looking into alternative proposals to make the building’s exterior look attractive and to give a general impression of what it will look like once all the works are complete,» says Kafetsi. In any case, the dismal appearance of the former brewery will soon be a thing of the past. Already, the huge billboards covering it have been partly removed. For the time being, the National Museum of Contemporary Art is looking for a place to move into while the construction work on Fix is being carried out. Hopefully, this will be in the same area around Syngrou Avenue and will host «Synopsis III,» the follow-on exhibition to «Synopsis II,» which ended recently. Until April, when the museum will be forced to move, the Greek public will still have to opportunity to enjoy an exhibition of the museum collection’s new acquisitions from January 22 to February 22, while on March 4, a retrospective exhibition on photographer Manolis Babousis will be held. Another good omen for the museum this new year was the enrichment of its permanent collection. Artist Chryssa donated some of her most important works, while the collection has also received works by Panos Zagoraris and Bia Davou.

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