New York lecture on the New Acropolis Museum

Dimitrios Pantermalis, the New Acropolis Museum's director, has given a lecture about the New Acropolis Museum in New York, to tie in with an exhibition there about the building.

Lecture on New Acropolis Museum in NY

New York (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou) — Dimitrios Pandermalis, President of the Board of Directors of the New Acropolis Museum and Professor of Classical Archaeology at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, presented a lecture on “the Acropolis Museum and Its Collections” on Saturday evening at Columbia University in New York, in Schermerhorn Hall at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP).

Pandermalis made a historic review of the landmarks in the search for the appropriate site for the New Acropolis Museum, the obstacles that arose along the way, the excavations that necessitated a change of plan, and the final result that he said enchanted humanity.

Speaking to a packed auditorium, which also included the Museum’s architect, Bernard Tschumi, Pandermalis also outlined aspects unknown to the wider public concerning the entire course from inception of the idea of the New Acropolis Museum to the completion of the project.

Pandermalis also noted the “great advantages” of the Museum, such as the exploitation of natural light, and its roof, which functions as a “fifth facade”.

The lecture was given in conjunction with the exhibition on the New Acropolis Museum running at Columbia University’s Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery through December 19.

Opening just four months (October 21) after the new Acropolis Museum itself (June 20), the exhibition focuses on the building itself – its innovative architecture and the major role it plays at the nexus of Greco-Roman cultural and archaeological history, according to the organisers.

Sited to be in visual dialogue with the Acropolis, The new Acropolis Museum creates a direct association between the displayed objects and their original context. For the first time, all significant archaeological finds from the area are consolidated into one, state-of-the-art museum, highlighting the importance of the site in shaping artistic expression in Greco-Roman antiquity and its continuing influence on perceptions of Greek art. At the heart of the Wallach exhibition is an array of full-scale casts of prime examples of the sculpture that the museum was built to house, together with casts of pottery that was unearthed during excavations for its foundation. The casts, on loan from the museum in Athens, are complemented by color photographs of the building.

Introducing the exhibition are planning documents from Bernard Tschumi Architects, the firm that designed the museum. These materials include preparatory sketches, working drawings and architectural models. Tschumi, a New York-based Swiss architect, is a member of the faculty of Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, where he served as dean from 1988 to 2003.

Early archaeological work on the Acropolis is illuminated by illustrated books from Columbia’s Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library. Copies of archival documents from the American School of Classical Studies in Athens outline the pioneering studies of William Bell Dinsmoor, a Columbia faculty member from 1919 to 1963 and one of the few foreign scholars allowed to conduct excavations on the Sacred Rock. Ioannis Mylonopoulos, professor of Ancient Greek art and archaeology in Columbia’s department of art history and archaeology, is serving as curator of this exhibition.

The exhibition winds up on December 19.

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