Acropolis now!

Whilst in Athens, I couldn’t not go to the Acropolis Museum. In fact, it was the very first museum I set foot in during my stay in the Greek capital. Funnily enough, my visit to Athens coincided with Greek Orthodox Easter as well as a couple of other Public Holidays, which meant that there was a five day period in which things weren’t open. As soon as things reopened, off I went!

“Where are you from?” The woman on the ticket desk asks us as we paid the entry fee.

“The UK,” I reply “Don’t hold that against us” I add, jokingly.

“It’s for the survey,” she told us drily.

Too soon to joke? At least I didn’t mention where I work… that would have gone down well.

I have visited the Acropolis Museum before, back in 2010, a visit that pre-dates my blogging about my museum adventures. This post could easily turn into an essay about the Parthenon Marbles, but as I’ve written about before, it’s a thorny issue that I tackle most days at work. In this post, I wanted to concentrate more on the museum, the actual Acropolis Museum rather than any agenda.

I won’t be talking about these things – the Parthenon Marbles, sometimes known as the Elgin Marbles.  

The Parthenon Marbles at the British Museum
The Parthenon Marbles at the British Museum

I wanted to explore the things on display, explore how they’re displayed and to revel in my love for the glories of Ancient Greece. And hear again how much of a Boss Athena was (is?)

Me, looking at a small figurine of Athena as she battles a Titan!
Me, looking at a small figurine of Athena as she battles a Titan!

Despite being largely composed of chrome and glass and concrete, what could so easily become a cold unfeeling warehouse rings with emotions. They bounce around the walls, ricocheting from object to artefact. This sums things up.

A crying statue
A crying statue

It is accidental emotion here. The bronze from the eyelashes has caused a discoloration that to the viewer, looks so much like tears. What could she be crying for? I’m sure someone has an answer. I noticed that emotions run particularly high around the Caryatids, and their ‘missing sister.’

The Caryatids
The Caryatids

Against the stark whiteness of the floors, the cool gleam of the chrome and the smooth marble the little pigment that remains sings out.

A statue with pigment remaining
A statue with pigment remaining

I knew from the magical Museum of Classical Archaeology that ancient Greek decoration was by no means subtle. The way that what lingers of the colours and pigments has been presented makes the most of them. Too many and the effect would be lessened, too few and it would look odd.

The Bricks that Build the Temple

Museums are great places of learning, of sharing. They tackle important topics, and preserve humanity’s cultural heritage. With all that responsibility, it can be difficult to remember to have a bit of fun.

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much of a fun-factor at the Acropolis Museum. My previous experience of it, shortly after it opened, showed the Acropolis Museum to be very earnest in its approach. However, this time, something had changed.

Someone had cracked out the Lego!

Not just anyone, but the Nicholson Museum in Australia – they had built an entire Acropolis, complete with temples, theatres and all sorts of Lego people and donated it to the Acropolis Museum. From the crowds of people around it, it was clearly one of the more popular things in the place! It showed that an exploration, a celebration of the things on the Athenian Hill don’t have to be serious, and don’t have to revolve around heated debates.

It can just be “Isn’t this period of history great? Aren’t the things it has given us amazing? Look at the way it has inspired us!”

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Camille says:

    Hello Jack,
    I’m french student and I work about colors during antiquity et how museums talk about it. I would like to know if the reconstruction of the elastic fabric of the pants (picture 5) is always exhibit in the museum, or if it’s just for an temporary exhibition. Do you know it ? Thanks a lot !!

    1. Hi camille, it looked like it was part of the permanent display. 🙂

      1. Camille says:

        Thanks you very much !!!!

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