Saturday, January 9, 2010

New Acropolis Museum

Although my trip was dominated by ancient architecture, I still hoped to check out some new buildings. Since Zaha’s MAXXI museum in Rome was not open yet, the New Acropolis Museum by Tschumi became my biggest interest for modern architecture.

The museum came into sight right after I walked out of the metro station. It’s much closer to the Acropolis than I imagined. The building has three articulated levels: the ground level is aligned with the old city grid, while the top level (the Parthenon Gallery) is aligned with the Parthenon. A visual dialogue is created between the museum and the Acropolis: first, the museum is built right above some archeological remains dated back almost 2500 years.

Second, the café terrace on the second floor both overlooks the excavations and embraces the view of the Acropolis. Third, the curtain wall in the Parthenon Gallery also offers a great view of the Parthenon itself.

The glass floors at different levels create a vertical transparency. It exhibits not only the excavations beneath the first floor, but also the people walking on the floor above. Natural light is maximized in exhibition space by the use of skylights and curtain wall. It is amazing to see the sculptures under the constantly changing daylight, quite similar to their original outdoor condition. (the interior pictures are from the internet since photos are forbidden inside the museum)

Tschumi always claims film’s strong influence on his design. Some cinematic effects are quite noticeable in the museum. For instance, in the Parthenon Gallery the marbles of the Parthenon Frieze are oriented in their original locations, with the missing portions left blank. Each framed marble panel reminds me of a single film frame displayed in sequence for storytelling. The Parthenon in direct view also provides the perfect context for appreciating the artwork.

Another filmic infusion is the evening projection of the Erechtheion caryatids on the façade. I missed it as I had to go back to the ship before dark:(

I love the simplicity and elegance of the museum which reflects the essence of Greek architecture. Admission is only 1 EUR, unbelievable for a world-class museum like this!


Cissy said...

would be interesting to go back and check it out. i was there before this mega bldg...twice on the same trip. it was closed the first time because of election day, ALL offices were closed! so i sat around and wrote postcards... haha... thx for the picts.

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