Acropolis treasures on display in Thessaloniki before the big move

THESSALONIKI – The New Acropolis Museum is due to come into being in 2004, when the relief sculptures from the Parthenon frieze come down from the Acropolis on a specially constructed pathway to their home in the new building. Thessaloniki is admiring some of the exhibits in a dual exhibition opened in early December at the Telloglieo Arts Foundation at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki by Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos. The exhibition features 20 original items from the Acropolis, including sculptures, bronzes and vases which have been taken out of storage and put on display for the first time. Among them are an archaic marble kore (last quarter of the sixth century BC), a sculpture from the frieze of the Erechtheion (410-416 BC), a red-figure loutrophoros from the Acropolis (c. 450 BC), a black-figure votive tablet by the painter Lydos (550-540 BC), the portrait of Athenian general Miltiades (second century AD), votive reliefs, movable copper handles of a vessel (sixth century BC), and the marble portrait of Alexander the Great (c. 330 BC) by Leoharos, a work which is of special significance for Thessaloniki. The Acropolis treasures have been added to the architectural exhibition which has toured London, New York and Berlin. Architectural drawings and four models (the museum, the museum and its immediate surroundings, the museum and the Acropolis, and the Parthenon room), by Bernard Tschumi and Michael Photiades, the designers of the new Acropolis Museum, show the designs for construction and the building in its final form. Though the issue of the return of the Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum is still unresolved, Professor Dimitris Pandermalis, president of the organization for the construction of the new museum, is optimistic. «What reasonable person would not be optimistic when the movement for their return has grown massively since the 19th century? The British are no longer refusing categorically but are looking for conditions,» he said. Pandermalis expects the building to be complete in two years. But the museum will come into being in 2004 when the core structure and its glass shell is built. Then the ancient and classical sculptures will be transferred to the new museum. Part of the Parthenon frieze will slide down a purpose-built passage to go into place before the widows and doors are installed in the building. «The public will be able to see the transfer process,» explained Pandermalis. «It will be an historic moment. After 25 centuries, sculptures and reliefs that were the pride of Athens will come down from the Acropolis.» The exhibition runs till February 8, 2004, when it will come to the Athens Concert Hall and the Weiler building