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The Acropolis Museum awaits the return of the Parthenon sculptures from Britain

The struggle for the return from Britain of the Parthenon sculptures is enhanced to the British Museum it's time to prove that it is not a colonial Museum organization of the 19th century, said the Minister of culture of Greece Lina Mendoni at a press conference on the occasion of the 11th anniversary of the Acropolis Museum.

The rooms of the Museum are ready to take all the Parthenon sculptures, said the President of the Acropolis Museum Dimitris Pandermalis.

The new Museum building was opened on 20 June 2009, its construction was considered a prerequisite to campaign for the return of the Parthenon marbles from the British Museum, smuggled to the British Ambassador in Constantinople Lord Elgin. Prior to this, Britain declared that Greece is not able to provide decent conditions of storage of the marbles of the Parthenon.

The Acropolis Museum is the most visited Museum in Greece. In the exhibition on an area of 14 thousand square meters is about four thousand exhibits.

At a press conference announced a new stage in the relations between Greek museums and Pedernales spoke about the new exhibits and changes in the Acropolis Museum over the last year.

The Minister of culture and sports, Lina Mendoni began the press conference with the announcement of "highly symbolic" significant step – the impending transfer of the National archaeological Museum the Acropolis Museum, fragments of the sculpture of the male head, from the North frieze of the Parthenon. Now the fragment presented in the Archaeological Museum at the exhibition "For this we fought", dedicated to the revolution of 1821.

"This gesture is symbolic. Thus, we want to underscore the importance that we attach to the return of the Parthenon marbles to the place of their birth and their reunion with sculptures exhibited in the Acropolis Museum. Today, on the occasion of the eleventh birthday of the Acropolis Museum, we are, in fact, begin a new relationship between public museums in the country. This piece is a very important exhibit at the National archaeological Museum. But it takes on a whole different meaning when you will be reunited and will find its original place on the frieze," said the Minister.

"With this step we want to show that we need at least to state museums, different mentality. The culture of collaboration, culture of lack of ownership, lack of ownership of the findings and objects that can be in a different Museum," said Mendoni.

According to her, the demands of Greece on the return of the Parthenon sculptures from the British Museum has found increasing support in the world.

"Today, at the international level there is increasing competition for the return of the sculptures with the support of specialized scientific committees around the world. It is now time for the British Museum to prove that he is no longer the colonial Museum, the organization of the 19th century, but that he adapts to the international requirements and codes of ethics that concern the restitution of stolen or contraband, and consequently, illicitly acquired cultural property", - said the Minister.

Mendoni said that the Acropolis Museum "at the forefront of the struggle for the return of the" Parthenon marbles.

The President of the Acropolis Museum Professor Dimitris Pandermalis thanked the Minister for the return of the exhibit from the Archaeological Museum.

"It's part number 29 of the frieze," said the President of the Museum.

"The hall of the Parthenon was built so that everything was ready to return (sculpture), because we are always optimistic that it can happen. This is a very big step that you have to offer. This is a new way of cooperation between the museums of the Greek state," he said.

Pandermalis said that the main purpose of the Museum in the coming years - the renovation of the exhibition and the enrichment of the presentation of the two great temples of the Acropolis.

"Under the roof of the Acropolis Museum are two of the Acropolis - archaic and classical. From the archaic period of 50 years and more was only one Church, which we call Hekatompedon or "Pro-Parthenon". We all know a large gable with two lions tearing a bull, but we do not understand neither the size of the Church nor his values. That's why we put up in cooperation with the preservation of the Acropolis monuments three of the relief and metope from this temple. The visitor, comparing them with other exhibits in the Museum, understand the size of the temple: three elevation have a height of 140 centimeters, and the rest usually only 40 centimeters," said the Professor.

He said that the Museum displays also "love words", is left on the ruins of an ancient temple.

"Without the archaic Acropolis, it is impossible to perceive classical classical Acropolis and its monuments. This temple, which was burned by the Persians," said the President of the Museum.

According to him, the Museum will prepare an exhibition about the fire in the Acropolis in connection with the 2,500 th anniversary of the battle of Thermopylae and battle of Salamis.

Pandermalis reported that the closure of the Museum on 14 March because of the pandemic was "a heavy blow".

"We are not closed for as many days, but we used this time to increase attendance. The visitor is our main goal. Our goal is to transfer knowledge, to show the contents of the Museum," he said.

According to him, until the end of February attendance was the same as last year, but in early March she fell from 147 thousand in March 2019 to 26 thousand for the first two weeks of March 2020.

"Of course it was a shock when instead of the usual six thousand visitors a day on the first day after the resumption of work (15 June) came the 137 people on the second day 214, and the third day 130. But we believe that gradually their number will grow", - he said.

According to him, from June 2019 to March of this year the Museum was visited by 1 283 125 visitors.

The President of the Museum said that during the months when the Museum was closed, it was a complete cleaning.

"Museum "freshened up". The Museum does not have to resemble a large antique shop. The Museum should be fresh. And we have also renewed some of the exhibits, returning to the visitor saw new things, experienced the role that the exhibit played in the historic space," said Pedernales.

In addition, in the room of archaic sculptures were installed some of the sculptures, such as a copy of the famous Bark of the Lyon Museum. It consists of two major parts, one is in the Lyon Museum, and another in the Museum of the Acropolis.

He also said that the Museum was equipped with new and modern LED fixtures, lighting which is close to natural light.

"Caryatids and other sculptures are now bathed in light almost the same as natural, which emphasizes all their greatness, their small but valuable items. And details is the main mystery of ancient sculpture," said Pedernales.

He also said that the Museum is very important in digital technology.

"We do not belong to those who supersedes or replaces real Museum. Experience cannot be replaced. But you can see what I saw the sculpture of the man 2.5 thousand years ago. We use digital technology to show what cannot be seen with the naked eye," said Museum President.

The British envoy to Constantinople from 1799 to 1803 Lord Elgin brought a huge number of works of ancient Greek art, which bought British Museum. In the collection of the pediment statues and metopes of the Athenian Parthenon, the Caryatid of the Erechtheion, the statue of Dionysus and many other unique works. Greece is seeking the return of illegally exported works of art, but the British Museum claims that Elgin had the permission of the vizier a firman for their removal.