One of the best things to happen for visitors to Athens is the New Acropolis Museum. The last time I visited the old one on the Acropolis, you had to stand in a queue to get in, shuffle your way round while jammed in between other visitors, and emerge hot and exhausted. Not a pleasant experience.
But that has all changed. While it’s true there have been a few delays and problems in completing the new museum, it is a vast improvement, and a delight to enter and explore.
The museum is situated to the south of the theatre of Dionysus. It was designed by the Swiss architect Bernhard Tschumi.
To be fair to the organizers, some of the delays were due to disoveries made once they started digging. (You can’t dig up much in Athens without finding something ancient!)
When you enter the new Acropolis museum you’ll immediately begin to appreciate the ideas and thoughtful design which has gone into the project.
Gallery of the slopes of the Acropolis
The ground floor contains the finds from the approaches to the Acropolis, and the floor slopes gradually upwards to simulate the ascent. The floor is of glass, which is transparent in places, so you can see the excavations.
Many of the sanctuaries and everyday objects from daily life are on display.
The Archaic gallery
This gallery covers the times from the 7th century BC, until the end of the Persian Wars (480/79 BC). It contains artifacts from the Hekatompedon (the earliest Parthenon), the Archaic temple of the Athena Polias (around 500 BC), and votive offerings.
The Parthenon gallery
This is an impressive gallery. It is arranged so you can see the Parthenon frieze as you walk around it. Replicas of much of the original frieze are on display, because the originals are in places such as the British museum and the Louvre.
You can also watch a video presentation, learn about the birth of democracy in Athens, and find out about the Panathenaic Procession which is illustrated on the Parthenon frieze. You’ll also see the remains of the metopes and pediments.
The Propylaia, temple of Athena Nike, and Erechtheion.
These buildings on the Acropolis served different functions, and they are explained in detail. Some of the best preserved and artistic remains from classical Athens are from these structures. One is a carved slab depicting a winged Victory as she stops to tie up or unfasten her sandal. The type is known as the ‘Sandalbinder’, and is from around 410 BC.
Much more on display in the new Acropolis museum
Because it is so much bigger than the old museum, there’s far more on display. So instead of having just a few items representing different periods, you can now see all the treasures of the Acropolis together.