The current glory of Greece is, of course, the new Acropolis Museum. When we were in Athens last November they were allowing viewings of the facility as exhibitions were being put in place and even empty the interior was impressive. It is all raked glass floors, stone, multi levels and natural light illuminating an incredible collection of the glories of Ancient Greece. Sadly the exterior looks, as our friend Fotis suggests, like an alien space craft has landed in the middle of town. It just doesn’t fit and we won’t even go into the argument raging about destroying two historical houses to improve the view from the restaurant.
Laurent spent a few hours there the second day he was in Athens and was mightily impressed with both the collection and the displays. I decided that since I was only there for the weekend I would restrict myself to a Saturday morning snack with Fotis on the restaurant terrace. The entrance fee, until the end of the year, is 1 euro – so just popping in for a coffee and a salad is not a big deal. I will wait until a weekday on our next trip to view the collection at my leisure.
However one museum I wasn’t going to pass up this time was the Byzantine and Christian Museum. I had gone looking for it in November and totally missed the huge signs indicating the entrance on the hoardings that hide it during extensive renovation. Founded in 1914 it is, perhaps, one of the finest collections of Byzantine art in the world. And as with most of the museums I have visited in Greece the curating and displays are amongst the finest I’ve seen anywhere. And it is staffed with pleasant and knowledgeable people who acknowledge your presence with pleasure – such a nice change from the glowering attendant who knows you are only there to steal their national treasures.
And national treasures they have!
The Museum is housed in a lovely villa setting with the permanent collection in one building and special exhibits in another. I’ll try and post something later this week about Refugee Art – an interesting but terribly sad display of objects from the forced migration of Greeks from Asia Minor in 1923.
25 luglio – San Giacomo il Maggiore