Archaeological Museum to open in its entirety

In the spring, the refurbished National Archaeological Museum will be completely ready. What didn’t happen in time for the Olympic Games, when only half of Greece’s leading museum was in operation, will finally happen this April. That’s when the floor that was damaged in the 1999 earthquake is to be reopened. The upper floor, with the rooms containing the famous murals from Akrotiri in Thera and the renowned vase collection, has been closed ever since the earthquake. Cracks in the walls and damage to the roof have been fixed and the entire upstairs area was turned over for use two weeks ago. Work on the lift is due for completion this week and elegant display cases ordered from Belgium, which match those on the gound floor, have already arrived to house some 3,000 ceramic exhibits. Also ready are the special installations for the Thera display, which is to receive heavy emphasis. The room where the murals and numerous objects excavated by Spyros Marinatos are to be displayed was created by combining two rooms. The roof has been insulated, the ceiling raised to suit the exhibits and makeshift solutions used in the past remedied. The upper floor comprises nine rooms, of which eight are devoted to the vase collection. The new display will highlight the unique collection of lekythos flasks, considered to be one of the finest in the world. The museum’s director, Nikolaos Kaltsas, wants to emphasize various sections and subsections of the display, such as women and marriage, white lekythos flasks and sanctuaries. The bronzes will also be on display again in April. The collection of some 1,500 items includes statuettes and jewelry from major sanctuaries such as Delphi and Dodoni. Changes have been made to the museum’s garden. Stone blocks, lighting and more plants have given it a new look. All that remains to be done is to get the cafe, a city landmark, running again, a task that has been undertaken by the Archaeological Receipts Fund. The cafe is scheduled to open in the spring. There will be no temporary exhibitions this year at the museum which, however, has plans for the future that will bring it into line with major museums abroad. The «Agon» exhibition that the museum arranged for the Olympic Games has been extended and will remain until the end of April so that as many schoolchildren as possible have the chance to see it. The exhibits that came from abroad are no longer in place but have been replaced by copies or life-sized photographs.