A few hours before the much anticipated opening of the museums, the Acropolis Museum, among the most important and loved in the world, is all set to welcome its visitors. As in the first, so in the second extended lockdown, the Museum did not remain inactive. Its staff switched creatively to the digital world, offering its virtual visitors unique applications, some of which the public can now also enjoy live.
“The Acropolis Museum is waiting with great joy and impatience to reopen its gates to the public on May 14 after many months of being closed. However, this period gave us the opportunity to do further conservation work on a number of ancient works, set up some of them from the start and, most importantly, complete a big project; the Digital Acropolis Museum. It is a diverse programme, with many parts, one of which was the new website with the lockdown period coinciding with its launching, so giving the Museum the opportunity to address if not the physical, at least its digital public which is just as big “, said Stamatia Eleftheratou, Director of Collections and Exhibitions of the Acropolis Museum, to the Athens and Macedonia News Agency/AMNA that visited the Museum shortly before its reopening.
As she explained to us: “The new Acropolis Museum website is not a simple one. It is a whole world which captures the life and activities of the museum. It is also the first museum website in Greece on which all exhibits have been posted. That is, the visitor can find a description, rich bibliography and plenty of supervisory material on each exhibit , ie pictures and videos, where they exist. Our website also has a webpage addressed specifically to children, with rich activities and imaginative videos and games. In addition, a series of digital applications has been created, interactive or video, which the visitor can see in the Museum’s physical space but also on the internet “, added Ms. Eleftheratou, pointing out however, that some of these applications will not be immediately accessible, as long as the strict health measures apply. “Touch screens, for example, will not operate. But we can get an idea of the Acropolis Museum’s complete picture when the restrictive measures are lifted “, she pointed out to the AMNA, inviting us on a unique tour of the Museum, which was done in a slightly unorthodox manner: starting from the upper floors and going down.
“The equipment provided by the Acropolis Digital Museum project gave us the opportunity to create two new spaces on the 2nd floor. “One is the Multimedia Center and the other is the Children’s Corner”, said Ms. Eleftheratou. On the touch screens of the Multimedia Center, visitors learn about the adventures of some of the most important works of the Acropolis and their being scattered in various museums around the world, while in the Children’s Corner the museum’s young friends can be entertained with digital games and fun videos. In the same Children’s Corner there is the hologram of the lost ivory statue of Athena Parthenos by the sculptor Pheidias, that stood inside the Parthenon. The design of the small-scale holographic projection was based on ancient copies of the statue and references to written sources.
The video that shows the daily life of children in ancient Athens – specifically in the ancient neighborhood where the museum was built many centuries later – and the game “Gigantomachy( Battle between the Olympian Gods and the Giants)”, as depicted in the metopes on the east side of the Parthenon, are just some of what can be seen in the Children’s Corner. “The entire 2nd floor is a service area for visitors, adults and minors. Apart from the Children’s Corner and the Reading Room which pre-existed, there is now the Multimedia Center with new applications steadily being added to it and where one can relax and at the same time have a lovely view of the Caryatids and the Hall of the Acropolis Slopes”, points out Ms Eleftheratou to the AMNA.
There are however new applications in the rest of the Acropolis Museum as well, to enhance the interest of visitors. For example, in the thematic sections on the 1st floor that concern the Erechtheion and Athena Nike, two screens – one in each section – show informative videos that answer many questions. In this way we are “linking” the exhibits that are part of the monument with the monument itself, for visitors to understand what it was like, learn its history in brief and be able to have a better understanding of what they are looking at “, said Ms. Eleftheratou. On the same floor, another absorbing digital programme reminds one of the fascination of the inscriptions one often passes by. “Inscriptions are not usually very attractive, but they tell a whole story that is very difficult to narrate just with a caption or an introductory text”, added Ms Eleftheratou. This is altered by the specific programme and reveals the engraved letters and the details of the forms in relief, allowing one to explore the secrets hidden in 20 of the Acropolis inscriptions, as well as the domestic and foreign policy conducted by the Athenian Republic in the 5th and 4th centuries BC.
The audio tour of the Acropolis Museum is completely new. Once health conditions are back to normal , visitors will be able to use the audio guide to learn about the top 60 exhibits in a two-hour audio tour. When a quick tour is required, there is a shorter version of the application that includes 30 exhibits. The tour, in Greek and English, also provides for people with hearing problems, who will be able to read the texts on the screen of the device. “There is another version that is suitable for families. With it the whole family will be able to follow a very pleasant tour of some important exhibits of the Acropolis Museum. The digital tour is a completely new application, but we will not be able to offer it as long as issues of hygiene do not allow it. However, when this state of affairs come to an end and the Acropolis Museum is fully operational, we are all set to provide it “, said Ms. Eleftheratou.
On the ground floor, visitors are welcomed by an original interactive application with the most important exhibits of the Acropolis Museum. 60 works of art invite the public to a pleasant “play” on the touch screen and a first acquaintance with the Museum’s collections before entering the exhibition halls – or after the tour, as was our case when we said goodbye to the hospitable Acropolis Museum with another surprise application that will be available when the measures allow it: A digital interactive map at the exit that presents the most important archaeological sites and museums of the city with all necessary information to reach them.