Parthenon frieze will be recreated in New Acropolis museum

Originals to be displayed next to plaster casts of British Museum’s marbles

LONDON. The long-awaited formal opening of the New Acropolis Museum in Athens has now been scheduled for September, after a series of delays. The gallery housing the Parthenon marbles, at the top of the museum, with a view towards the actual Parthenon 300m away, will be finally unveiled, although many of the other displays are not expected to be completed until next year.

After years of discussions, the museum has now decided how it will present the marbles.

The originals are being displayed alongside plaster casts of the pieces removed from Greece, most of which are in the British Museum in London.

An earlier plan was to place gauze curtains in front of the casts, to make it obvious they are not originals. The museum has now opted for a simpler solution. The casts will be lighter in colour than the museum’s originals, which have a patina.

Construction of the New Acropolis Museum has been an extremely lengthy project, with the first architectural competition launched in 1976. This, and a second one in 1979, led to unsatisfactory designs, and the results of a third competition in 1989 were annulled by the government. Following a fourth competition in 2000, won by New York architect Bernard Tschumi, the museum was then scheduled to open in time for the Athens Olympics in August 2004. Archaeological discoveries on the site and other problems led to a series of further delays.

Meanwhile, the owner of the low-cost airline and holiday business, easyJet, the Greek Cypriot-born Stelios Haji-Ioannou, has launched an advertising campaign in the UK, calling on curators at the British Museum and the New Acropolis Museum to engage in “a constructive dialogue” over the Parthenon Marbles, under the headline: “I just want the two guys to talk to each other.” However his position on the ownership dispute is clear from the text painted on the side of his latest cruise ship: “Reunite the Parthenon Marbles”, something that could only take place in the new museum in Athens.

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