CULTURE

The historical legacy of Patra

Finds from the Mycenaean period, the necropolis, as well as the extraordinary mosaics that date back to Roman times, all of which highlight the city’s legacy, are the three most important areas of interest in the New Patra Archaeological Museum, according to Nikos Mourtzas, president of the museum’s scientific committee, and Yiannis Moschos, curator of the temporary exhibition. The museum will open its doors to the public today at 7.30 p.m., in the presence of Minister of Culture Antonis Samaras. The museum was designed as a way to reconstruct Patra’s past, from prehistoric times up to the Late Roman period. The temporary exhibition is displayed in three thematic sections. The first two sections are set to open tonight, while the third is expected to open in the fall. The 8,000-square-meter museum is located on the northern outskirts of the city, on a 28,000-square-meter plot of land on the Athens-Patra National Road. It is Greece’s second-largest museum after the New Acropolis Museum, as well as one of Europe’s most modern. The 20-acre area that surrounds the museum building has been mostly planted with greenery and the 500-square-meter pool and shiny metallic dome highlight the port city’s long relationship with water. The plot of land next to the museum will be turned into a cultural park. The final budget came to to 21.5 million euros. Plans for the museum’s construction had been initially announced back when Melina Mercouri was minister of culture, but the foundations were not laid until 2006. As with the New Acropolis Museum, the Patra museum will also raise the issue of the repatriation of stolen artifacts. «The procedure of claiming [the objects back] will also be a way to promote both the museum and the city,» said Mourtzas. Earlier in the week, Samaras met with Patra Mayor Andreas Fouras. The Municipality of Patra announced that the culture minister has promised to provide the 3.2 million euros necessary to pay for the design studies and construction work. The municipality further announced that Minister Samaras made the commitment for all work to be included within the fourth National Strategic Reference Framework (ESPA) – which ensures and oversees the flow of European Union funds to projects in Greece – and that money would be provided on an annual basis for its funding. In the meantime, contract employees at the Ministry of Culture as well as former employees of the previous museum have scheduled a protest to coincide with the opening.