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Acropolis Gets New Museum

The new Acropolis Museum, designed by architects Bernard Tschumi and Michalis Fotiadis, soon begins construction so as to meet the completion date of August 2004. Plans foresee a plain yet somewhat elegant building that takes nothing from the wonder of a first sight of the Acropolis. Designers say it will be far removed from the architecture of excess and from any tendency to exhibitionism.

The entrance will be off the new Dionysiou Areopagitou walkway. Visitors will follow a pathway through present excavations so as to feel a powerful impression that they are walking through a city that has breathed life since the Neolithic era. The actual museum building entrance will lead to the central section. Antiquities will be on display at one end, the Erectheion will be in the center and at the other end, toward the Acropolis, are a refreshment area and a restaurant.

Upstairs, the atrium will be devoted to the Parthenon marbles, which hope to be returned to Athens once the museum is completed. The frieze will be put back into place, and natural light will shine in from above and down onto the central hall where the Caryatids are.

One of the designers, Mr. Fotiadis, says the museum itself does not appear to take up space. “It’s a building you discover gradually,” he explains. “Perhaps the only incursion it makes into the area is with the atrium at the top.” An airy, transparent building, he says, that is both Attic and international.

The new museum makes great use of natural light, which enhances the effect of the building as it shines in through the roof and reaches down to the lowest level. Light is the motive force of this building that is positioned discreetly at the foot of the Acropolis.

The new museum has transparent walls of different types of glass, some of which polarized. But this is nothing at all like a glass office block tower, say the designer.

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