Spreading out the Olympia museum displays

The Museum of Ancient Olympia is due for decongestion. A new building will display the archaeological treasures of the area, while the old building will showcase the history of the Olympic Games and the former ephorate building will focus on the history of local excavations. The changes will allow Olympia greater space to display the archaeological wealth of the area. This is just the first step in a program of decentralization that will include the second archaeological museum of Kalamata, to house finds from the Messini excavations, the Pyrgos museum, which will hold all the finds from Elis and the new Museum of Elis. The objective is to create a complex program of exhibitions, as a Culture Ministry official explained at a December 17 meeting of the Central Archaeological Council (KAS). The latter has approved the exhibition program for the New Museum of Olympia. Without any radical changes, the exhibition will occupy 10 galleries in the museum. There will be a new element in the presentation. For the first time, there will be a strong emphasis on the museum’s unique collection of bronzes. Though unique of its kind, comprising 14,000 items, the breadth and worth of the collection is little known to the general public. Another pleasant surprise is the room dedicated to the sculptor Pheidias and his workshop, containing tools, clay molds and shields. Many items will be removed from the museum’s storehouse, Ephor Xeni Arapoyianni told the KAS meeting, which will become a research area the public can visit. The new earthquake-proof masonry display cases will have internal lighting. Some galleries will provide a few seats for visitors. The first gallery will contain the prehistoric exhibits, from the Neolithic to the pre-Mycenean era. The second gallery is for Proto-Geometric, Geometric and Archaic finds, and the third will contain more Archaic pieces and the Megarian pediment. Other rooms are devoted to preclassical and classical items, sculptures from the temple of Zeus, late classical, Hellenistic and Roman times, and the Hermes attributed to Praxiteles. The last room is for early Byzantine items, showing the decline of the temple. There is talk of a display case presenting the final settlement of Olympia and traces of a Slav presence.

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