After makeover, ‘country’s finest’ could be better still

The flagship of Greek museums has acquired a fresh look since its refurbishment at the time of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Without wanting to appear ungracious, we could point out that one or two things could have been done much better. The permanent collection, for instance, often seems to be cramped. The guards wear nametags instead of uniforms. Most of them look bored out of their skulls, in contrast with the guards at the Benaki, who radiate professionalism and conscientiousness. The cafe and the shop have been improved, but the area around the museum has become neglected. On the other hand, the museum does do research and has interesting temporary exhibitions, such as the recent one on Praxiteles. But the National Archaeological Museum, as the big gun in Greek culture, represents us in the eyes of the thousands of foreigners who visit, and who see in it an image of the entire country.