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Athens (Attica) | Attica | Athens City

The Acropolis of Athens Old Museum


The Museum existing until lately on the Acropolis rock was considered among the most important ones in the world and definitely the most important one as far as the History of European Art is concerned. It was built on the Acropolis Hill in 1874, in such a way that it would not aesthetically interfere with the Temples, nor be visible from anywhere within the city of Athens.

The excavations that followed, toward the end of the 19th century, unearthed a wealth of finds which were impossible to exhibit in the limited space of the Museum. Thus, the inscriptions, bronzes, clay objects, and a variety of other items were kept in the National Archaeological Museum, where they were originally taken for conservation. The situation was aggravated after all the marble pieces were removed from the Parthenon Friezes (that is, what was left over after Elgin's plunder) and were put in the museum, together with the Caryatids (the marble statues of the women supporting the roof of the south porch of the Erechtheion), all of which were removed to be kept in an air-tight window containing nitrogen, so as to stop air pollution from deteriorating the marble surfaces.

The collections of the museum included:

Sculptural offerings of the Archaic period
Pediments of temples dated to the Archaic period
Archaic Horsemen
Sculptures of the "Severe" style
Pediments and metopes from the Parthenon
The Parthenon frieze
The Erechtheion frieze
Parapets of the Athena Nike temple
Frieze of the Athena Nike temple
The Caryatids
Clay figurines and vases from the sanctuary of the Nymphs.

Everyone was eagerly anticipating the completion of the new Acropolis Museum, for the total wealth of finds related to the Acropolis and the Parthenon to finally be exhibited in the best possible way (combining location, lighting, space, air filtering and thematic consistency), and thus deprive the descendants of Lord Elgin of all plausible excuses to insist that the Parthenon Marbles continue to be kept separated from the rest of their like and the Parthenon remain in its mutilated state.

During 2008, the exhibits of this Museun were transferred to the New Museum, the erection of which was completed. Three huge cranes were used to carry all the heavy marble statues and exhibits, a total of some 4,500 artifacts from the old, cramped Acropolis museum, a task that was the biggest airlift of antiquities in Greek history. It was the first time the artifacts — some of which are considered among the most important works of antiquity — were moved from the very Acropolis Rock. This transfer was completed in the end of spring but putting up the exhibits in their right place would take a lot longer.

We thought that the present Album would become useless after the New Museum's inauguration. Nevertheless, the decision of the museum authorities to prohibit taking photographs of the exhibits in their new surrounding created more problems than the ones it was supposed to solve. We admit that the decision was well meant, but, with all due respect, we would like to point out that times have changed; we are afraid that whatever is not shown online cannot achieve the level of promotion that it may be worthy of. We managed, though, to get a number of photos of the exhibits, as the decision was taken a couple of weeks after the museum's inauguration. We are working on them and will do our best to put them up as soon as possible. But, in our effort to best present the exhibits, we are sorry to have to use some of the photos taken at the Old Acropolis Museum. Until the New Acropolis Museum album is online, please enjoy the marvellous artifacts at their old "home".

(Photos: Michael Tziotis)

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Click on any of the pictures to enlarge.

The Acropolis of Athens Old Museum: Why this Album?

This Album on the Acropolis of Athens Old Museum is a work of love and dedication. We have not made any compromises in our effort to provide the international community and the people who love Greece and its Culture, Greek and foreigners alike, with a descriptive and accurate approach to the Acropolis Museum Exhibits.

In this effort we were governed, from A to Z, by a deep and loving respect for our cultural heritage. We declare that this project of ours is thoroughly non-profit oriented; it has taken too long and demanded too many resources, human and financial, for it to comply with any market principles! The only "profit" these cultural pages are intended to produce is to inform and solicit the international traveler's deeper understanding of the historical, cultural and artistic value of these archaeological treasures and thus increase, on the basis of their high ranking, the number of visitors to the Acropolis Rock and the Acropolis Museum.

We feel deeply saddened when visitors pass through Athens without making a well-deserved pilgrimage to the Acropolis and its Museum; that we have somehow failed to inform them on the immeasurable importance of the exhibits and on the grave deficit on their behalf should they fail to experience at least one visit to these revered cultural treasures. We do not share the opinion that such efforts should only be undertaken by the Ministry of Culture and relevant authorities; instead, we believe that all citizens should actively participate in this endeavor, and that visitors to these sites will be all the more richer for it.

We, therefore, deliver this collection of photos and texts to travelers, college students, high school students and anyone interested in studying the Greek Cultural Tradition, including students at schools in all levels. This collection may, in the hands of inspired teachers, become a superb teaching tool with which to address the sensitive and inquisitive child's mind!

We declare that the copyright of these photos and accompanying texts lies with the Greek Ministry of Culture, as a representative of the Greek Nation, part of the cultural tradition of which are the items shown in the photos depicted, and the researchers/scientists who have been in charge of the restauration and exhibition work.

Best Regards

The Windmills Travel Department of Culture

Note: This album was made while the Museum was still open to the public; we shall keep it online as long the New Museum is being prepared and, after it opens, as long as it will take us to take photos and put them online.

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