Set at the foot of the Acropolis, the Acropolis Museum in Athens is a modern building that displays many of the sculptures and reliefs found on the Acropolis. The original building built in 1878 just couldn’t accommodate the thousands of visitors and growing number of sculptures at one place. This old building was also much criticized for not being earthquake-proof in an area that is earthquake prone. The present day museum, opened in June 2009 is a spectacular modern construction designed by the famous Swiss architect Bernard Tschumi.
This modern architectural wonder is built on a series of pillars designed to protect the archeological site discovered below the surface. The glass floor enables visitors to have a glimpse at the excavated remains uncovered underneath. The museum has glass facades, which allow visitors to look over the Acropolis from within the museum. Visitors can enjoy the stunning view of the acropolis Hill from an outdoor terrace on the third floor of the museum.
The museum displays a large number of sculptures and daily life objects found at the foot of the sacred hill. The main gallery has many Archaic statues, both males and females that date back to the sixth century BC. The sculptures of Moschophoros sculpted in 570 BC, the Boy of Kritios, and the relief of the beautiful and young mourning Goddess Athena are the noteworthy sculptures in this main gallery. The next gallery consists of many reliefs and sculptures obtained from the Parthenon. The last gallery displays sections of the Propylaea, the Erechtheion, the temple of Athena Nike, and the famous caryatid sculptures and the female figures that supported the south porch of the Erechtheion.
The majority of the Parthenon sculptures, popularly known as Elgin Marbles were sold and permitted to be taken to the British Museum in 1816 by the then Ottoman rulers. The Greek government has been demanding these sculptures to be returned to Athens. The construction of the new Acropolis Museum has reiterated Greece’s capability and commitment to provide a safe and appropriate accommodation for this invaluable collection of sculptures. However, the British Museum has been offering a stiff resistance to hand over Elgin Marbles back to Greece.
The main entrance of the museum is at the Dionysiou Areopagitou Street. Visitors arriving here in tour buses can get down at the Hatzichristou Street and the entrance for groups is at the Mitseon Street. The museum remains closed on Mondays, Easter Sunday, 1 January, 1 May, and on 25 and 26 December. The museum has a Reading Lounge, Cloakroom, Shopping, Café and Restaurant areas. The Information Desk at the ground floor is open from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm.