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Today the National Archeological Museum Athens is celebrating 150 years since its foundation.

The main commemorative exhibition, which opens tonight in Athens, is called ‘Odysseys’ and presents the museum’s unique collections, from the Neolithic period to classical periods, celebrating the topics of human survival, development, knowledge and happiness.

It’s a particularly symbolic date, since it was on another Monday, 150 years ago, that the foundation stone of the first National Museum in the country was laid by King George I, in the presence of the entire group of ministers and the political, religious, military and municipal authorities.

The exhibition will officially become inaugurated by the President of the Hellenic Republic, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, in attendance of the Culture and Sports Minister Aristeidis Baltas on Monday at 7pm (invitation is required for admission). The inauguration ceremony will start with the festive prelude by the brass quintet Melos Brass with musicians of the ERT symphonic orchestra and the recitation of Cavafy’s poem “Ithaca” by the actress Olia Lazaridou.

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On the same day of the opening, from early in the morning until midnight, the “Passers-by” of George Xenos, works of sculpture with frames of iron sheet, depicting human figures, will be installed in the courtyard of the Museum, recalling to mind the visitors of the Museum, who for 150 years enjoyed it, almost uninterruptedly. Moreover, this sculptural composition metaphorically illustrates the foundation ceremony itself that was carried out in open air, in the unbuilt plot of Patission Street, on 3 October 1866.

The National Archaeological Museum is one of the world’s most important museums and it houses the world’s finest collection of Greek antiquities, with more than 11,000 exhibits that include sculptures, pottery, jewellery, frescoes and other artefacts from all over Greece.

There are six permanent collections: the Collection of Prehistoric Antiquities (Neolithic, Cycladic, Mycenaean); the Sculptures Collection (ancient Greek sculpture from the 7th to the 5th centuries BC); the Vase and Minor Objects Collection (ancient Greek pottery from the 11th century BC to the Roman period); the Bronze (Metalwork) Collection; the Egyptian and Near Eastern Antiquities Collection; and the Collection of Cypriot Antiquities.

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At the same time, the anniversary of the National Archaeological Museum receives honour from great museums of the world that send as “gifts” outstanding works of theirs to be on display in the spaces of the Museum’s permanent exhibition for quite some time.

The Metropolitan Museum of New York, the Badisches Landesmuseum of Karlsruhe, the National Museum of Western Art of Tokyo, the Palace Museum of Beijing, as well as the Greek National Gallery the Greek National Museum of Contemporary Art the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation and the University of Heidelberg participate in the celebration with important works from their collections.

These artworks converse with the permanent exhibits of the National Archaeological Museum and bring forward different aspects of the ancient world along with, its sometimes unexpected, similarities with today.

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GCT Team

This article was researched and written by a GCT team member.

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