Acropolis Museum unshackled

The New Acropolis Museum is to gain administrative and financial autonomy, according to a draft law which was heralded yesterday by Culture Minister Michalis Liapis and has provoked criticism from state archaeologists. «The new museum will operate under the strict supervision of the ministry but its legal status will maintain the necessary distance from both the private and traditional state sector that its role demands,» Liapis told reporters. The museum, and not the ministry, would be responsible for managing all the antiquities it accommodates. It would also manage its own finances, issuing balance sheets and annual reports. The museum would have a seven-member managing board, appointed by the minister, which would serve three-year terms. The Association of Greek Archaeologists was quick to condemn the plan, which it described as «institutionally and functionally unacceptable.» Unlike museums in other countries, Greek museums host monuments of national significance and should belong to the state, the association said. It also claimed that the plan «undermined the Greeks’ demand for the return of the Parthenon Marbles,» without elaborating. According to Liapis though, the draft law is a «bold and innovative» plan that «might even be applied to other large museums if deemed to be successful.» The minister said the legislation was based on a model used in France where large museums acquired administrative autonomy from the state during the 1990s. State archaeologists said the plan would not grant the new museum increased flexibility and expressed doubts about who would be appointed to the managing board. The new museum, designed by US-based architect Bernard Tschumi, is due to open this fall. A small section on the ground floor of the museum is currently open to the public between 10 a.m. and noon daily.