HELADA goes to NAM, er, TAM
The official site calls it TAM. We got to calling it NAM, aka the New Acropolis Museum. Nevermind.
Whatever you call it, the site is really impressive. There have been mixed reactions on the design itself. Some think it's a statement, perfectly styled to the task it undertakes. Others would have preferred something a bit less jarringly modern. Our group thought, no matter which style you prefer, the striking modern exterior somehow blends into the surrounding neoclassical houses.
Inside, displays are well arranged and easy to access. There are some huge sculptures, stored away in waiting for decades, that still bear the coloured paint the entire monument once wore. There are also some old familiar ones. And all the large statuary is within touching distance. The Kariatides, for instance, can be circled, seen from the better preserved back side, now so close you could tap them on the shoulder. You find yourself, if you're not alert, turning to talk to the person next to you, only to realize, it's marble listening.
Time for a quick group shot as we leave the museum
HELADA member and architect, Marc Blake introduced the site, compiling information from various official sources as well as his own knowledge. Here are his notes:
third competition was opened to international firms and, in 1989, a
finalist was chosen. The winning proposal from the Italian firm of
Nicoletti and Passarelli was a wedge shaped building with a dramatic
curved 'eye-shaped' observation window in the dramatic sloping surface
of the museum. Excavations proceeded for this structure, but when
archeologists discovered a thick layer of artifacts and buildings from
5bc to 4ad, the museum needed to be completely redesigned. So in 1999
the competition was annulled and the 4th and final competition was
invitations were sent out to a select few international firms and,
finally, Bernard Tschumi, http://www.tschumi.com/
with Michael Photiadis won the commission. Bernard Tschumi, who
formerly headed the Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, (HELADA's
Christopher Woodfin studied under him) became known for his public
architecture after winning the competition to build the Paris Parc
de la Villette.
deplore the museum saying that it is ungainly, out of scale and
uncharacteristic for the Makriani site, while others put the building in
the category of the Eiffel Tower and the Pompidou Center in Paris, which
were universally loathed after construction but eventually became proud
cultural symbols for Paris.
controversial building is horizontally divided into 3 parts, possibly
symbolizing the tripartite classical models. The base which is wrapped
in a prefabricated concrete screen, contains the foundations, loading
dock, private parking, main public entry, and temporary exhibition
galleries. The middle part is the two level gallery containing all the
vertical circulation and main collection. The top is the pristine glass
Parthenon Gallery, which symbolically sits atop the body of the building
at a tilt to mirror the same orientation of the Parthenon on the rock of
the Acropolis. The entire building is sitting on columns that are
attached to special ball bearing connections, so that the building can
move unaffected by earthquakes.
central vertical circulation core through the middle building is
deliberately organized so that the visitor slowly walks upwards in a
clockwise direction passing first through the archeological finds
discovered in the excavations below the building, then through the
archaic period and finally to the Parthenon gallery at the top. When
visitors descend, they are meant to again take a clockwise path
returning to the entrance through the post Parthenon sculptures.
Unfortunately, this is not obvious and visitors tend to wander about on
the first level not knowing this intended pathway.
the glass floors, visitors are meant to see the ongoing excavations
which will eventually be accessible for closer inspection, while at the
same time allowing natural light to pass through the structure. Very few
electric lights are needed to illuminate the galleries due to the
extensive use of special heat absorbing glass and sun control devices,
allowing the daylight to naturally illuminate the sculptures as
originally intended while protecting them from the sun's rays.