White Tower to reopen with an exhibition about the city

The illustrated 2008 diary from the Friends of the Museum of Byzantine Culture in Thessaloniki is a harbinger of an exhibition to open soon at the city’s White Tower. The monument has been closed for two years in preparation for an exhibition about Thessaloniki through the ages. Exhibits will cover every aspect of life in the city, highlighting the urban and cosmopolitan features that have characterized Thessaloniki since its foundation. Respect for the monument itself and easy access for all visitors are the basic premises of the curators’ approach to the new multimedia exhibition, which will encompass the city’s long history in seven rooms, each on a different floor. «An historic monument like the White Tower is a museum in and of itself. For that reason, it can’t be loaded with archaeological finds,» Anastasia Tourta, director of the Museum of Byzantine Culture, told Kathimerini. «Besides, how can you squeeze 2,300 years of history into a 450-square-meter space?» On the ground floor of the tower, a digital map will show the city’s archaeological sites, historic monuments, museums and cultural foundations. The screen will also provide a flow of information about subjects ranging from the water supply system to commerce, the movement of people and ideas, and the coexistence of different cultures and religions. «Cities like Thessaloniki, Rome and Istanbul have a lengthy, continuous trajectory throughout which they retained their urban character. You can’t ‘museify’ those cities. Their history is alive and scattered around different parts of the present urban fabric. So the exhibition won’t ‘museify’ the city but the images will be an information point,» explained Tourta. So visitors, especially residents of Thessaloniki, who may have associated the Church of Aghia Sofia with the wedding of a friend but are unaware of the church’s age-old presence, will come to understand the history and worth of their city.