Museum opens after facelift

Over 20 months after closing down for extensive refurbishment ahead of the August Olympics, Greece’s largest museum is to reopen to the public on Friday. But most of Athens’s National Archaeological Museum will still be off-limits to visitors during the Games, and for along time afterward. Tomorrow, Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis is to inaugurate 32 of the basement’s 40 exhibition halls, but as for the first story with its enormous collection of ancient Greek vases – closed since the 1999 earthquake, which caused extensive damage – no official opening date has been given. The renovated halls house sculptures and pieces from the museum’s rich prehistoric collections, some 8,500 artifacts in all. Air conditioning has been installed, as well as facilities providing access to the disabled from a side entrance on Vassileos Irakliou Street, while new cases have replaced the elegant wooden cabinets in which the collections were previously displayed. The museum, built between 1866-89, was closed in October 2002.