Rediscovering the museums of Greece

With the hosting of the Olympic Games, Greece’s state museums and archaeological sites were given a facelift as well as a more modern image befitting the 21st century. Many changed for the better, while others were simply tidied up for Olympic Games purposes. The museum gift shops – and some Greek private museums – were also refurbished to make them more competitive. In terms of customers served, the Benaki, Cycladic Art and Natural History museums come in on top and boast tasteful products, stylish cafes and meeting places. One motive behind the more aggressive policy adopted by the Organization for the Promotion of Greek Culture (OPEP) on the management of municipal museum areas is to ensure they are properly utilized and bring in funds to the Culture Ministry. Info-kiosks, CD-ROMs with virtual tours of all archaeological sites and mobile devices for guided tours still haven’t made inroads at museums in Greece. OPEP is focusing on these modern means and also on new products, as the rather limited network of gift shops it inherited from the previous management had severe shortcomings. New infrastructure was created as a result and old structures were upgraded. New products were launched and seven new gift shops are currently in the pipeline, budgeted at a cost of 1 million euros, which is half of what OPEP spent on existing structures.

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