The need for a vision

The opening of the New Acropolis Museum today aims to leave a historical mark on the city and on the country. The inauguration hopes to rank in importance alongside the 2004 Olympic Games and to re-generate some of the euphoria of that period. But that summer brought Greece a European soccer title, parties in the streets, a glorious Olympic Opening Ceremony, a city dressed in its finest. That summer was unique. Much water has since flowed under the bridge. Greece in 2009 is a far cry from Greece in 2004. It has lost so much of its vitality, its unity and hope. What reserves of these qualities Greece was able to painstakingly build over the years were squandered senselessly in forest fires, unpunished scandals, destructive complacency and a global financial crisis that denuded us even further and crushed our self-esteem. There is little to celebrate in the summer of 2009. Except this one thing, the new museum: A museum completed after three decades of derision and shilly-shallying, infighting and judicial obstacles, deviations and losses. On the battleground that is the neighborhood of Makriyanni, the weaknesses – and virtues – of society and the state were put to the test. The outcome was favorable and the museum is here to stay. Shiny, modern, extroverted, a pleasing complement to the great Acropolis, an organic part of the city of Athens. Sure, the museum could have been located elsewhere or looked different. Much could have been different about it. But this is what we’ve got and we need to consider what it represents. The New Acropolis Museum shows us that we can leave an imprint of our era on this city, even when it stands beside one of its greatest landmarks. And this imprint helps to showcase the city, the ancient living side-by-side with the modern; it enriches the city’s history and boosts our self-esteem. This museum reminds us that we always need to have a vision.