CULTURE

Mycenae finally has its own museum to host locally found exhibits

Ever since archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann began to conduct his excavations on the site of Mycenae, visitors to the archaeological site have not yet had the opportunity to see the striking finds all gathered under one roof. Until recently, most important finds were housed at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens, while others could be found in Nafplion and various warehouses. The Archaeological Museum of Mycenae, which Minister of Culture Evangelos Venizelos opened on July 31, now covers that glaring gap, and is also a new point of reference for Greece’s archaeological map. The museum, situated on the northern side, at the foot of the Mycenae acropolis, occupies 2,000 square meters, 380 of which is taken up by exhibition halls. Although the museum has been ready for five years, the public could not visit it because of delays in the museological study. The aim, according to Venizelos, is for the museum to attract the majority of those visiting the archaeological site. Throughout Greece, more admission tickets are sold for archaeological sites than for their adjacent museums: Out of every seven visitors to a site, only one will also visit the museum. To get round this problem at Mycenae, the public will be able to visit both the site and the museum on the same ticket. The museum’s exhibition halls will host 2,500 exhibits, not only from the city of Mycenae but also from the wider area. The exhibits surfaced during excavations that first started at the end of the 19th century and were carried out by the Archaeological Society of Athens, the British Archaeological School and the Fourth Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities. The museum’s showcases do not contain those items that have become the symbols of the peak of Mycenaean civilization, because these exhibits will remain in Athens. The museum, by contrast, will host items related to the daily life of this great prehistoric settlement. On view for first time Most of the works are made of clay, but there are also pieces made of metal, stone, gold and ivory, which are on display to the broader public for the first time. Since the museum is situated on the edge of the archaeological site, the finds are displayed in units, according to theme and location. Additional information is provided next to each unit. In this way, the exhibits help visitors who have already been to the site form a complete picture of the uses and purposes of the sets of buildings and graves. The objects on view in the lobby came to light during the earliest excavations. The first hall presents the life of the Mycenaeans, through objects that reflect the settlement’s political, social, religious and manufacturing importance. The second hall is dedicated to burial customs, and exhibits include 15 copies of objects from Grave Circle A, among which Agamemnon’s golden mask was also found. In the third hall, one can see small objects, clay vases and building sections and there is a special mention of the excavation works. Venizelos grasped the opportunity to make some campaign statements. After praising the beauty of the land of Argolida, he pointed out that the district’s cultural projects would be boosted by 28 million euros from the Third Community Support Framework. He said that restoration works will be carried out at the Bourzi and Palamidi palaces and the Akronafplia in Nafplion, as well as at the Temple of Hera and other ancient and more recent monuments in Argos, so as to strengthen the bond between the two cities and Mycenae. He finally referred to the efforts to increase permanent posts in the ministry and to protect archaeological sites during the summer.