Museums, art galleries go on Olympic time

It is a well-known fact that August’s Olympic Games will impose an entirely different atmosphere on Athens, which will affect all activities. Under the circumstances, the city’s cultural life cannot be considered exempt. Although things are still unclear, it is certain that the museums, archaeological sites, galleries and other cultural institutions will not only be open full time but are going to exceed their winter schedules. The large private museums have already decided to extend their opening hours, something that the museums under aegis of the Ministry of Culture will undoubtedly follow (the National Archaeological Museum, the Byzantine and Christian Museum, the Acropolis Museum and others). The Benaki Museum will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and will only be closed on August 15, while its two new branches will follow suit: the Museum of Islamic Art at Kerameikos will also close at 9 p.m. and the Benaki Museum’s new building on Pireos Street will close at 8 p.m. Free entrance The Museum of Cycladic Art will remain open throughout the period of the Games, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., except for Tuesdays, when it will close at 5 p.m. More importantly, the museum has decided to offer free admission during the Olympics and the Paralympics. The National Gallery has yet to announce its schedule; the exhibition featuring the works of six sculptors will only be open two afternoons per week, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays. On the other hand, the State Museum of Modern Art, temporarily housed in the Athens Concert Hall’s new halls, has worked out a more flexible program for its two big summer exhibitions, «Diapolitismous» (Cross Cultures) and the Yiannis Kounellis exhibition. It will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., while on Tuesdays and Thursdays it will remain open until 10 p.m. It will be closed on Mondays. Guided tours in Greek, English and French are scheduled to take place on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. Archaeological sites have already extended their opening hours, from 8.30 a.m. to 7 p.m., but it is likely that they will extend them even further. Similar moves are expected from the big state museums. Athenian galleries have had a more striking idea: They will remain open from 8 p.m. to midnight, attempting to reinforce the festive atmosphere in the city center as well as in Kifissia. The organizers’ aim is to turn the galleries into havens of social activity and entertainment. Participating galleries include A. Antonopoulou, Agathi, AD, the Athens Art Gallery, the Skoufa Art Gallery, Anemos, The Apartment, Argo, Astra, Bernier/Eliades, Gallery 7, the Zoumboulakis Gallery, Diana Gallery Down Town, Ekfrasi Yianna Grammatopoulou, Els Hanappe Underground, Epoches, Ersi, Kalfayan, Kappatos, Medusa, Nees Morfes, Titanium Yiayiannos and Ileana Tounda.