National Archaeological Museum, Athens

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National Archaeological Museum
Archaologisches Nationalmuseum Athen.jpg
Open street map Central Athens.svg
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Location within Athens
Established1829
Location Patission Street, Athens, Greece
Coordinates 37°59′21″N23°43′55″E / 37.989170°N 23.731827°E / 37.989170; 23.731827
Type National museum
Public transit access Logo of the Athens Metro Operating Company (AMEL).svg Athens Metro Line 1.svg Victoria station
Logo of the Athens Metro Operating Company (AMEL).svg Athens Metro Line 1.svg Athens Metro Line 2.svg Omonoia station
Logo of the Athens Metro Operating Company (AMEL).svg Athens Metro Line 4.svg Exarcheia - Archaiologiko Mouseio (2027)
Website www.namuseum.gr

The National Archaeological Museum (Greek : Εθνικό Αρχαιολογικό Μουσείο) in Athens houses some of the most important artifacts from a variety of archaeological locations around Greece from prehistory to late antiquity. It is considered one of the greatest museums in the world and contains the richest collection of artifacts from Greek antiquity worldwide. [1] It is situated in the Exarcheia area in central Athens between Epirus Street, Bouboulinas Street and Tositsas Street while its entrance is on the Patission Street adjacent to the historical building of the Athens Polytechnic university.

Greek language language spoken in Greece, Cyprus and Southern Albania

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.

Athens Capital and largest city of Greece

Athens is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, with its recorded history spanning over 3,400 years and its earliest human presence starting somewhere between the 11th and 7th millennium BC.

Greece republic in Southeast Europe

Greece, officially the Hellenic Republic, also known as Hellas, is a country located in Southern and Southeast Europe, with a population of approximately 11 million as of 2016. Athens is the nation's capital and largest city, followed by Thessaloniki.

Contents

History

The Museum in 1893 National Museum 6.jpg
The Museum in 1893

The first national archaeological museum in Greece was established by the governor of Greece Ioannis Kapodistrias in Aigina in 1829. Subsequently, the archaeological collection was relocated to a number of exhibition places until 1858, when an international architectural competition was announced for the location and the architectural design of the new museum. [2]

Ioannis Kapodistrias Governor of the First Hellenic Republic

Count Ioannis Antonios Kapodistrias, sometimes anglicized as John Capodistrias, was a Greek statesman who served as the Foreign Minister of the Russian Empire and was one of the most distinguished politicians and diplomats of Europe. After a long and distinguished career in European politics and diplomacy he was elected as the first head of state of independent Greece (1827–31). He is considered a founder of the modern Greek state, and the architect of Greek independence.

The current location was proposed and the construction of the museum's building began in 1866 and was completed in 1889 using funds from the Greek Government, the Greek Archaeological Society and the society of Mycenae. Major benefactors were Eleni Tositsa who donated the land for the building of the museum, and Demetrios and Nikolaos Vernardakis from Saint Petersburg who donated a large amount for the completion of the museum.

Mycenae archaeological site in Greece

Mycenae is an archaeological site near Mykines in Argolis, north-eastern Peloponnese, Greece. It is located about 120 kilometres south-west of Athens; 11 kilometres north of Argos; and 48 kilometres south of Corinth. The site is 19 kilometres inland from the Saronic Gulf and built upon a hill rising 900 feet above sea level.

Saint Petersburg Federal city in Northwestern Federal Okrug, Russia

Saint Petersburg is Russia's second-largest city after Moscow, with 5 million inhabitants in 2012, part of the Saint Petersburg agglomeration with a population of 6.2 million (2015). An important Russian port on the Baltic Sea, it has a status of a federal subject.

The initial name for the museum was The Central Museum. It was renamed to its current name in 1881 by Prime Minister of Greece Charilaos Trikoupis. In 1887 the important archaeologist Valerios Stais became the museum's curator.

Prime Minister of Greece head of government of the Hellenic Republic and the leader of the Greek cabinet

The Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic, colloquially referred to as the Prime Minister of Greece, is the head of government of the Hellenic Republic and the leader of the Greek cabinet. The incumbent prime minister is Alexis Tsipras, who took office on 21 September 2015.

Charilaos Trikoupis Prime Minister of Greece

Charilaos Trikoupis was a Greek politician who served as a Prime Minister of Greece seven times from 1875 until 1895.

Valerios Stais was a Greek archaeologist. He was born in Kythera. He studied medicine and later archaeology. He became the director of the National Archaeological Museum of Athens in 1887 and held that post until his death. During that period he organized or participated in excavations in Epidaurus, Argolis, Attica, Dimini, Antikythera and elsewhere. He also wrote a lot of archaeological studies, published in various papers and mainly in Archeologiki Efimeris, and many books.

During World War II the museum was closed and the antiquities were sealed in special protective boxes and buried, in order to avoid their destruction and looting. In 1945 exhibits were again displayed under the direction of Christos Karouzos. The south wing of the museum houses the Epigraphic Museum with the richest collection of inscriptions in the world. The inscriptions museum expanded between 1953 and 1960 with the architectural designs of Patroklos Karantinos. [3]

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Patroklos Karantinos was a notable Greek architect of early modernism in Greece.

The building

The museum has an imposing neo-classical design which was very popular in Europe at the time and is in accordance with the classical style artifacts that it houses. The initial plan was conceived by the architect Ludwig Lange and it was later modified by Panagis Kalkos who was the main architect, Armodios Vlachos and Ernst Ziller. At the front of the museum there is a large neo-classic design garden which is decorated with sculptures. [2]

Neoclassical architecture is an architectural style produced by the neoclassical movement that began in the mid-18th century. In its purest form, it is a style principally derived from the architecture of classical antiquity, the Vitruvian principles, and the work of the Italian architect Andrea Palladio.

Classicism art movement

Classicism, in the arts, refers generally to a high regard for a classical period, classical antiquity in the Western tradition, as setting standards for taste which the classicists seek to emulate. The art of classicism typically seeks to be formal and restrained: of the Discobolus Sir Kenneth Clark observed, "if we object to his restraint and compression we are simply objecting to the classicism of classic art. A violent emphasis or a sudden acceleration of rhythmic movement would have destroyed those qualities of balance and completeness through which it retained until the present century its position of authority in the restricted repertoire of visual images." Classicism, as Clark noted, implies a canon of widely accepted ideal forms, whether in the Western canon that he was examining in The Nude (1956), or the literary Chinese classics or Chinese art, where the revival of classic styles is also a recurring feature.

Ludwig Lange (architect) German architect

Ludwig Lange was a German architect and landscape designer.

Expansions and renovations

The Antikythera Ephebe 0028MAN-Room3.jpg
The Antikythera Ephebe

The building has undergone many expansions. Most important were the construction of a new east wing in the early 20th century based on the plans of Anastasios Metaxas and the construction of a two-storeyed building, designed by George Nomikos, during 1932–1939. [2] These expansions were necessary to accommodate the rapidly growing collection of artifacts. The most recent refurbishment of the museum took more than 1.5 years to complete, during which the museum remained completely closed. It reopened in July 2004, in time for the Athens Olympics and it included an aesthetic and technical upgrade of the building, installation of a modern air-conditioning system, reorganisation of the museum's collection and repair of the damage caused by the 1999 earthquake. The Minoan frescoes rooms opened to the public in 2005. [4] On May 2008 the Culture Minister Mihalis Liapis inaugurated the much anticipated collection of Egyptian antiquities and the collection of Eleni and Antonis Stathatos. [5] Today, there is a renewed discussion regarding the need to further expand the museum to adjacent areas. A new plan has been made for a subterranean expansion at the front of the museum.

Collections

The museum's collections are organised in sections: [6]

Collections
SectionRoomsSample inventories
Prehistoric Collection
(Neolithic, Cycladic, Mycenaean)
3-6 and 48 [7]
Sculptures Collection7-34
Vase and Minor Objects Collection (Including Stathatos and Vlastos-Serpieris collections)42 [8] and 49-56 [9]
Santorini Collection48
Metallurgy Collection36-39
Egyptian and Near Eastern Antiquities Collection40-41
Epigraphical Museum 1, 9 & 11

Prehistoric collection

The prehistoric collection displays objects from the Neolithic era (6800–3000 BC), Early and Mid-Bronze age (3000–2000 BC and 2000 to 1700 BC respectively), objects classified as Cycladic and Mycenaean art.

Neolithic era and early and mid-Bronze age collection

There are ceramic finds from various important Neolithic sites such as Dimini and Sesclo from middle Helladic ceramics from Boeotia, Attica and Phthiotis. Some objects from Heinrich Schliemann excavations in Troy are also on display.

Cycladic art collection

Cycladic collection features the famous marble figurines from the Aegean islands of Delos and Keros including the Lutist. These mysterious human representations, which resemble modern art and inspired many artists such as Henry Moore, [10] came from the 3rd millennium BC old cemeteries of Aegean islands along with bronze tools and containers.

Mycenean art collection

Mycenean civilization is represented by stone, bronze and ceramic pots, figurines, ivory, glass and faience objects, golden seals and rings from the vaulted tombs in Mycenae and other locations in the Peloponnese (Tiryns and Dendra in Argolis, Pylos in Messinia and Vaphio in Lakonia). Of great interest are the two golden cups from Vafeio showing a scene of the capture of a bull.

Heinrich Schliemann finds

Mycenean collection includes also the magnificent 19th-century finds of Heinrich Schliemann in Mycenae from the Grave Circle A and the earlier Grave Circle B. Most notable are the golden funerary masks which covered the faces of deceased Mycenean nobles. Among them, the most famous is the one that was named erroneously as the mask of Agamemnon. There are also finds from the citadel of Mycenae including relief stelae, golden containers, glass, alabaster and amber tools and jewels. Other features include an ivory carving of two goddesses with a child, a painted limestone head of a goddess and the famous warrior's vase dating from the 12th century.

Egyptian Art collection

The Egyptian collection dates back to the last twenty years of the 19th century. Notable is the donation of the Egyptian government which in 1893 offered nine mummies of the era of the Pharaohs. However, the Egyptian collection is mainly by two donors, Ioannis Dimitriou (in 1880) and of Alexandros Rostovic (in 1904). In total the collection includes more than 6000 artifacts, 1100 of which are available presently for the public. The collection is considered to be one of the best collections of Egyptian art in the world. The exhibition features rare statues, tools, jewels, mummies, a wooden body tag for a mummy, a stunning bronze statue of a princess, intact bird eggs and a 3000-year-old loaf of bread with a bite-sized chunk missing. The exhibition centrepiece is a bronze statue of the princess-priestess Takushit, dating to around 670 BC. Standing 70 cm high and wearing a gown covered in hieroglyphs, the statue was found south of Alexandria in 1880. [11]

Stathatos collection

The Stathatos collection is named for the donors and major Greek benefactors Antonis and Eleni Stathatos. The collection features about 1000 objects, mainly jewels as well as metal objects, vases, and pottery from the Middle Bronze Age to post-Byzantine era. Features of special note are the Hellenistic period golden jewels from Karpenissi and Thessaly.

Artists and artifacts

Some of the ancient artists whose work is presented in the museum are Myron, Scopas, Euthymides, Lydos, Agoracritus, Agasias, Pan Painter, Wedding Painter, Meleager Painter, Cimon of Cleonae, Nessos Painter, Damophon, Aison (vase painter), Analatos Painter, Polygnotos (vase painter), Hermonax.

Collections include sculpture work, Loutrophoros, amphora, Hydria, Skyphos, Krater, Pelike, and lekythos vessels, Stele, frescoes, jewellery, weapons, tools, coins, toys and other ancient items.

Artifacts derive from archaeological excavations in Santorini, Mycenae, Tiryns, Dodona, Vaphio, Rhamnous, Lycosura, Aegean islands, Delos, the Temple of Aphaea in Aegina, the Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia in Sparta, Pylos, Thebes, Athens, Vari Cave, the Antikythera wreck and from various other places in Greece. [2]

The museum houses the archaic terracota statuette daidala that inspired the designers of the 2004 Athens Olympics maskots Athena and Phevos.

New exhibits

Two of the newest exhibits of the museum include a 4th-century BC golden funerary wreath and a 6th-century BC marble statue of a woman, which were returned as stolen artifacts to Greece in 2007 by the Getty Museum in California, after a 10-year-long legal dispute between the Getty Center and the Greek Government. [12] One year earlier, the Los Angeles foundation agreed to return a 4th-century BC tombstone from near Greek Thebes and a 6th-century BC votive relief from the island of Thassos. [13]

Museum highlights

Library of archaeology

The museum houses a 118-year-old library of archeology with rare ancient art, science and philosophy books and publications. The library has some 20,000 volumes, including rare editions dating to the 17th century. [14] The bibliography covers archaeology, history, arts, ancient religions and ancient Greek philosophy, as well as Ancient Greek and Latin literature. Of particular value are the diaries of various excavations including those of Heinrich Schliemann. The collection of archaeology books is the richest of its kind in Greece. The Library has been recently renovated with funds from the Alexander S. Onassis Foundation. Its renovation was completed on 26 May 2008 and is now named after Alexander Onassis. [15]

Museum activities

Visitors' information

The museum is accessible by the Athens metro. The nearest stations are Viktoria station and Omonia station. The museum houses a gift shop with artifact replicas and a café in the sculpture garden. The museum is fully wheelchair accessible. There are also facilities and guides for hearing-impaired visitors. For the latest activities of the museum, including the currently running periodic exhibition, visit the Official Museum's Blog: www.all4nam.com

See also

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References

  1. "Ministry of Culture and Sports | National Archaeological Museum". odysseus.culture.gr. Archived from the original on 2007-06-22. Retrieved 2018-02-28.
  2. 1 2 3 4 The National Archaeological Museum (2000) Euangelia Kypraiou Archaeological Receipts Fund Direction of Publications, Athens Greece
  3. "Ministry of Culture and Sports | Epigraphic Museum". odysseus.culture.gr. Archived from the original on 2012-05-21. Retrieved 2018-02-28.
  4. ekathimerini.com | National Archaeological Museum Archived 2007-11-09 at the Wayback Machine
  5. "Egyptian antiquities exhibition". Archived from the original on 2011-06-05. Retrieved 2008-06-10.
  6. Sculpture in the National Archaeological Museum, Athens (2002) Nikolaos Kaltsas Getty Trust Publications: J. Paul Getty Museum, California, USA
  7. The Prehistoric Collection Archived 2016-03-05 at the Wayback Machine , National Archaeological Museum
  8. Stathatos Collection Archived 2016-01-21 at the Wayback Machine , National Archaeological Museum
  9. The Vase and Minor Objects Collection Archived 2016-09-20 at the Wayback Machine , National Archaeological Museum
  10. Early cycladic sculpture: its aesthetics and its influences on Henry Moore and Constantin Brâncuși DEB Lercher - 1979 - State University of New York at Binghamton
  11. Priceless ancient Egyptian relics go on display [ dead link ]
  12. "BBC NEWS - Europe - Ancient wreath returns to Greece". Archived from the original on 2015-11-22. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
  13. "CBC.ca Arts - Greece closes net on antiquities smuggling". Archived from the original on 2007-07-11. Retrieved 2007-07-23.
  14. "Rare tomes... - News - ekathimerini.com". Archived from the original on 2014-02-01. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
  15. "This Week - News - ekathimerini.com". Archived from the original on 2015-04-11. Retrieved 21 November 2015.

Coordinates: 37°59′21″N23°43′55″E / 37.989170°N 23.731827°E / 37.989170; 23.731827