Acropolis Museum

Acropolis Museum information

Location
Athens , Greece
Address
Dionysiou Areopagitou 15
Makrygianni
Telephone
+30 210 900 0901
Getting there
Metro: Akropoli
More information
www.theacropolismuseum.gr
Prices
adult/child €5/free
Opening hours
8am-4pm Mon, to 8pm Tue-Sun, to 10pm Fri Apr-Oct, 9am-5pm Mon-Thu, to 10pm Fri, 9am-8pm Sat & Sun Nov-Mar
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This dazzling modernist museum at the foot of the Acropolis' southern slope showcases its surviving treasures still in Greek possession. While the collection covers the Archaic and Roman periods, the emphasis is on the Acropolis of the 5th century BC, considered the apotheosis of Greece's artistic achievement. The museum cleverly reveals layers of history, floating over ruins with the Acropolis visible above, showing the masterpieces in context. The surprisingly good-value restaurant has superb views; there’s also a fine museum shop .

Designed by US-based architect Bernard Tschumi with Greek architect Michael Photiadis, the €130-million museum includes items formerly held in other museums or in storage, as well as pieces returned from foreign museums.

As you enter the museum grounds, look through the plexiglass floor to see the ruins of an ancient Athenian neighbourhood , which were artfully incorporated into the museum design after being uncovered during excavations.

Finds from the slopes of the Acropolis are on display in the foyer gallery , which has an ascending glass floor emulating the climb up to the sacred hill, while allowing glimpses of the ruins below. Exhibits include painted vases and votive offerings from the sanctuaries where gods were worshipped, and more recent objects found in excavations of the settlement, including two clay statues of Nike at the entrance.

Bathed in natural light, the 1st-floor Archaic Gallery is a veritable forest of statues, mostly votive offerings to Athena. These include stunning examples of 6th-century kore (maidens) – statues of young women in draped clothing and elaborate braids, usually carrying a pomegranate, wreath or bird. Most were recovered from a pit on the Acropolis, where the Athenians buried them after the Battle of Salamis. The 570 BC statue of a youth bearing a calf is one of the rare male statues found. There are also bronze figurines and artefacts from temples predating the Parthenon (destroyed by the Persians), including wonderful pedimental sculptures such as Heracles slaying the Lernaian Hydra and a lioness devouring a bull. Also on this floor are five Caryatids , the maiden columns that held up the Erechtheion (the sixth is in the British Museum), and a giant floral akrotirion (a decorative element capping a gable) that once crowned the southern ridge of the Parthenon pediment.

The museum’s crowning glory is the top-floor Parthenon Gallery , a glass atrium built in alignment with the temple, and a virtual replica of the cella of the Parthenon, which can be seen from the gallery. It showcases the temple’s sculptures, metopes and 160m-long frieze, which for the first time in over 200 years is shown in sequence as one narrative about the Panathenaic Procession. The Procession starts at the southwest corner of the temple, with two groups splitting off and meeting on the east side for the delivery of the peplos to Athena. Interspersed between the golden-hued originals are stark-white plaster replicas of the missing pieces – the controversial Parthenon Marbles hacked off by Lord Elgin in 1801 and later sold to the British Museum (more than half the frieze is in London) – making a compelling case for their reunification.

Don’t miss the movie describing the history of the Acropolis.