Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Annex D

Towards a New Design for a New Museum

  1.  The small museum on the rock of the Acropolis was the first museum to be built in modern Athens; though twice expanded, however, it has proved totally inadequate and inappropriate as regards to its location so close to the Parthenon.

  1.1  The necessity of building a new museum became pressing in the light of new approaches in museum design and policy, and particularly following the extensive preservation works of the Acropolis monuments which have been undertaken in the last 25 years. A new Acropolis Museum was necessary for the protection and proper exhibition of unique sculptures and artifacts.

  2.  Thus, the Greek Government in the last 25 years took a number of initiatives towards this goal, including the organisation of an international architectural competition, which led to awarding the first prize to the architects M Nicoletti and L Passarelli. For a variety of reasons these efforts proved fruitless.

  2.1  A decisive step towards the realisation of the project was the establishment by the Greek Parliament, by consensus, of the Organisation for the Construction of the New Acropolis Museum (OANMA) as a private legal entity supervised by the Minister of Culture. OANMA, which is now responsible for the building of the museum, co-operates with the Melina Mercouri Foundation (Jules Dassin, President) which has as one of its main objectives the promotion of the new museum.

  2.2  By mid-1999, OANMA was ready to present the bid of the project on the basis of a revised design of Nicoletti-Passarelli which had been offered by the Melina Mercouri Foundation. An unexpected development altered these plans, however. The archaeological excavations on the site (Makriyanni) unearthed important ruins of the first and seventh centuries AD (mainly Roman and early Christian) which were considered, in most part, worth preserving. The Central Archaeological Council and the Minister of Culture decided that the new museum should co-exist with an in situ underground museum of Roman findings, and therefore a new building programme and a new architectural study were required. It is estimated now that the Museum of the Acropolis will consist of about 15,000 square metres.

  3.  In view of these developments, OANMA, which has to observe the relevant European directives (92/50/EEC), decided to launch a "restricted procedure" in two stages: first, OANMA will issue and publicise an announcement, inviting interested co-operating architects and civil and mechanical engineers to send in their dossiers, out of which five to 15 candidates will be selected, on the basis of their qualifications, by an international Evaluation Committee. In the second stage, those candidates will be judged by the same Committee on the basis of design proposals that they will be asked to submit. The best entry will be awarded with the final design study. A compensation of about 120,000 US dollars to the first three best entries and of about 30,000 US dollars to the rest will be offered.

  3.1  The Evaluation Committee is being appointed by OANMA and consists of eminent Greek and non-Greek members (mainly architects as well as engineers and archaeologists). It is expected that the Committee will meet in Athens for three to five days on each of two occasions—in May and in September/October 2000.

  3.2  The target date for the completion of the museum is the early summer of 2004, at a time when Athens will be preparing to host the Olympic Games.

Sotiris Mousouris

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