NEWS

New museum set for grand launch

The long-awaited opening of Athens’s New Acropolis Museum next month will be marked by five days of celebratory events, to be attended by a host of foreign leaders and dignitaries, Culture Minister Antonis Samaras said yesterday. «The masterpieces of the Acropolis will breathe in unique surroundings,» Samaras said, referring to the statues and friezes that it took several months to transfer from Athens’s landmark monument into the controversial glass-and-concrete construction. The inauguration will be accompanied by a rich program of events including «musical surprises,» Samaras said without elaborating. «It will be a magical atmosphere,» he said. Ministry sources noted that the cost of the festivities, initially budgeted at 6 million euros, will be restricted to half this sum. Some 200 heads of state, diplomats and museum directors have been invited to the launch, according to ministry officials who did not name any of the likely guests. The ultramodern structure, designed by US-born Franco-Swiss architect Bernard Tschumi, also contains a separate room with space reserved for the disputed Parthenon Marbles, currently in the British Museum in London. The three-level museum, which covers a total surface area of 25,000 square meters, will first open its doors on June 17 for a press tour. This will be followed on June 18 with a visit by archaeologists and academics, then a tour by foreign reporters on June 19 and by foreign dignitaries and European Union officials on June 20, when the doors will also open to the general public. Ministry sources said yesterday that the cost of a museum ticket would be just 1 euro for this year, rising to 5 euros in 2010. Another price rise is scheduled for 2011.