Posted on: 06/Sep/2009 - The New Acropolis Museum in Athens, Greece, is the perfect place to showcase the Parthenon Marbles held by Britain, museum officials said at Saturday's opening. Designed by New York architect Bernard Tschumi, the $200 million museum replaces the old Acropolis Museum, a small 1874 structure built into the rock of the Acropolis, The New York Times reported Saturday.
The new museum, intended as the "ultimate showcase of classical civilization," will be complete when Britain surrenders the Parthenon Marbles, sections of a decorative frieze that have been on display in the British Museum since 1816, said Antonis Samaras, Greece's culture minister.
Britain long has maintained it is in a better position to look after the 2,500-year-old panels and has offered to loan the marble pieces to Greece but not return them permanently.
The New Acropolis Museum opened in a brilliant and impressive ceremony on Saturday, June 20th, in the evening with the presence of many famous personalities from around the world. Prime ministers and presidents of various countries, members of the Greek and the European Parliament, eminent political and religious personalities and hundreds of journalists attended the inauguration of the museum and were the first to see its spacious rooms with the precious exhibits, all found in the excavation site of the Acropolis.
The comments of the international press about the museum were excellent, while many mentioned that this museum brings once again on the surface the long request of Greece to the British Museum to return the Parthenon Marbles. These marbles, also known as the Elgin Marbles, are actually part of the temple's frieze. In the early 19th century, Lord Elgin asked the then Turkish rulers of Greece to take some parts of the Parthenon's frieze back home to Great Britain. So, not only did Lord Elgin deprive the Parthenon Temple from its frieze, but he also ordered to cut some pieces in half in order to get them on board. When he arrived in his country, he sold these pieces to the British Museum where they are still hosted.
It was first in the 1970s that Greece asked these marbles back, but the British Museum wouldn't accept this requent on the pretext that there was no place in Greece to host these marbles in protection. That is why with the construction of the New Acropolis Museum, the Greek President Karolos Papoulias renewed Saturday evening the country's requent to return the marbles, as it is "time to heal the wounds" of the ancient temple, like he said. However, the British Museum is still not willing to return the frieze (it holds 75m of the original 160m of the frieze) and says that a loan would be possible, but onlt if Greece acknowledges British ownership on the marbles, which is not at all acceptable by the Greek state.
The New Acropolis Museum, which is found right opposite the Acropolis, on the pedestrian street of Dionisiou Areopagitou, will be open every day, except for Monday, from 8.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m. Till the end of 2009, the ticket will be 1 euro and 5 euros thereafter.
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