When the Education, Religion, Culture and Sports Ministry published the list of museums and archaeological sites that would be open to celebrate the full moon this Friday — the second this month, which is a phenomenon that occurs just once every two or three years, known as a blue moon — last week, the National Archaeological Museum had been omitted. The reason was basically because of the dire state of security in the part of downtown Athens where it is housed, on the Patission Street flank of Exarchia, an area that is notorious as a hangout for drug users and the site of frequent clashes between self-styled anarchists and police. According to the ministry, the country?s most important museum would close on this day, just like any other, at 4 p.m. — a restricted closing time imposed as a measure to ensure visitors? safety.
But the staff at the National Archaeological Museum were not going to let ?their? museum miss the full moon party, so, along with the management, they began exploring ways that they too could host a musical soiree. There was no spare funding, so a group of museum workers, as well as one of the cleaning ladies, offered their services for free. The security guards also said that they would be there, urging their colleagues in other parts of the country to do the same.
During deliberations over which parts of the museum would be open to the public after the regular closing time, three archaeologists stepped forward and said that they would volunteer to conduct two guided tours of the display of the Antikythera Mechanism on the night.
With the staff and program in place, all that was left was the entertainment and for this, the group organizing the initiative advertised on Facebook for a band to play for free.
Guitarte, a local guitar sextet, jumped at the chance of performing in the museum?s atrium under the light of the full moon. The band members also said that they preferred to play acoustic guitar and would not require any microphones or amplifiers, taking another burden off the shoulders of the museum?s staff.
And so, with all the stars aligned, the National Archaeological Museum will be open from 8 p.m. to midnight on Friday, August 31. Two tours of the Kythera Mechanism display will be conducted, at 8.30 and 9 p.m., for two groups of 50 people, who need to register in advance. And all this because a small group of civil servants, so lambasted in the local and foreign media, have gone above and beyond the call of duty to give something back.