Delphi and Thessaloniki museums gearing up for the 2004 Olympics

The Museum of Delphi, which was built 100 years ago, is preparing its fourth new exhibition in view of the 2004 Olympic Games. Along similar lines, the Thessaloniki Archaeological Museum is getting ready to reopen – though only partly, since by next April only 600 out of the museum’s 1,900 square meters will be ready – in order to present the Collection of Macedonian Gold, enriched with new finds. The 2004 Olympics have already resulted in a general tidying-up of archaeological sites and museums, but the process has not always been easy. «The display of the exhibits was planned with a given space in mind,» said Lina Mendoni, general secretary of the Ministry of Culture, at a recent meeting of the Central Archaeological Council (KAS) in which the studies for the museums were approved. She was right: In such cases, archaeologists are not just called upon to produce last-minute miracles, but are also expected to fit many finds into insufficient exhibition space. Despite all that, the new displays at both the Delphi Museum and the Thessaloniki Archaeological Museum are to contain exhibits which have up until now remained in storage. Delphi antiquities director Rozina Kolonia told KAS members that «The History of the Temple of Delphi» exhibition focuses on the religious, political and primarily artistic activities at the Temple of Delphi and the Oracle throughout its history, from the time of its foundation until early Christian times. The exhibits are displayed more or less chronologically, while many of them have not been moved, except for the statue of the Charioteer, which was placed in an extension of its existing room. That hall now holds the frieze of the Aemilius Paulus monument, which is again on display after a 40-year break. Construction of the monument was initiated by Macedonian King Perseus, but was completed by the Roman victor Aemilius Paulus. Among the new exhibits, visitors will also have the opportunity to see four statues which were recently recognized as a single composition, a family votive offering. Museum tour The tour of the museum starts with the temple’s early history, which is highlighted more than in the old exhibition, and the early votive offerings. Those include Mycenaean statuettes associated with the cults worshipped before Apollo, two fragments of stone Minoan rhyton vases and the bronze tripods. There are also early votive offerings in bronze, such as shields from Crete and Cyprus, a Phoenician bottle, Phrygian brooches and Sirens from Syria. The kouroi and the statues of warriors and gods are placed in a conspicuous spot, while bronze votive offerings from the eighth and seventh centuries BC are on display in the next hall. In the following halls, one comes across thematic groupings including «Early Archaic Times,» «The Gold and Ivory Depository» (which includes the Apollonian Trio and the Bull), «The Treasury of the Siphnians,» «The Temple of Apollo,» «The Treasury of the Athenians» and «Fifth Century BC Votive Offerings,» as well as a hall dedicated solely to the Tholos, the circular Temple of Athena Pronaia. The «Late Classical and Hellenistic Times» collection contains the Daochos group as well as the four statues recently recognized as one composition, while the Omphalos (navel) is now situated next to the acanthus-shaped pillar with the female dancers. The next hall focuses on «Late Hellenistic and Roman Times,» and contains the Aemilius Paulus frieze; and the final section is «The End of the Temple,» which concludes the history of Delphi. Council decisions The Central Archaeological Council wants a new study made of the possibility of putting the entire group of the Karyatid sculptures from the Treasury of the Siphnians on display at the location already suggested. It also decided that the presentation of the pedimental sculptures in the Temple of Apollo hall should be improved. Finally, KAS asked that the bases of the portable display cases be moved, and wants a study of the colors of the museum halls. Thessaloniki museum The exhibits of the Thessaloniki museum, the study for which has been approved, will also be displayed along chronological lines. The tour will start on the ground floor with the prehistoric exhibits. Old and new finds will be on display at the upper level, where the main exhibition, which consists of five thematic sections, will be located. The exhibition consist of the Collection of Macedonian Gold along with smaller collections and other important finds, like the Derveni Papyrus. The remaining sections are to cover the birth of Macedonian cities, the Kingdom of Macedonia, and the early centuries of Thessaloniki until Roman times.

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