Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Tourists to Athens Frustrated with Museum Closures

If you’re thinking of a trip to biblical lands, you might want to choose a country other than Greece this year.  From the Guardian:

The greatest repository of ancient Greek art – the National Archaeological Museum of Athens – has become the latest victim of the economic crisis engulfing Greece, with visitors getting only a peek at its renowned collections.

As the long-awaited tourist season begins, the debt-choked country's top attraction is in the news for all the wrong reasons: closed exhibition halls, neglect and exasperated holidaymakers.

"This is our first time to Greece and of course we're disappointed," said Shareen Young, from Orange Country, California, who on Friday found herself locked out of the venerable institution because of a staff shortage. "I had really wanted to see the golden Mask of Agamemnon and other treasures of Troy."

Barbara Vimercati, an Italian tourist, was also left standing outside the museum's monumental bronze doors. "It says it's open until 4pm but it's not, and there isn't even a note explaining why," she said, making do with a glimpse of cellophane-wrapped statues in an adjacent corridor. "It's unbelievable. We don't understand."

Most Greeks, including the museum's keepers, are similarly at a loss. "We have 11,000 exhibits, five permanent collections and galleries over more than 8,000 square metres of space," said Alexandra Christopoulou, a museum representative. "The season begins in April. I really don't know why it has taken so long for the culture ministry to send extra personnel."

With just 30 guards to supervise displays that require at least 130 on a daily basis, only eight of the museum's 64 exhibition halls were open to the public last Sunday, according to the Kathimerini newspaper. Visitors have reportedly almost come to blows with staff when they discover that their €7 (£6.25) ticket gives them access to only a fraction of the displays.

The story continues here.

HT: Jack Sasson

Athens National Archaeological Museum, tb030806100

National Archaeological Museum of Athens

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1 Comments:

  • I have been visiting Greece from June 16th until now and am happily reporting that I was able to visit the major ancient sites as well as the museums on June 19th and 20th with no trouble at all. Included were Hadrian's gate, the Roman Forum, the Acropolis, the Agora, Mars Hill, the National Archaeological Museum, and the Jewish Museum of Greece. The atmosphere around the major squares, Syntagma, etc., was lively with tourists and shopkeepers as per usual. With appropriate discretion (I made sure to be back at the hostel by sunset), I would encourage travelers to go to Greece. I've met many welcoming and hospitable Greeks who are well deserving of economic support and encouragement during this time.

    By Anonymous Nancy, at Thu Jun 23, 04:43:00 AM  

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