Acropolis Museum is an archaeological museum focused on the findings of the archaeological site of the Acropolis of Athens. The museum was built to house every artifact found on the rock and on its feet, from the Greek Bronze Age to Roman and Byzantine Greece.
The museum was founded in 2003, while the Organization of the Museum was established in 2008. It opened to the public on June 20, 2009. In 1989, a third competition for the design of the new Acropolis Museum was announced that would be international.
A choice of three possible sites was provided. This competition was won by the Italian architects, Manfredi Nicoletti and Lucio Passarelli. In retrospect, the location of the new museum was rather straightforward: the large lot of the unused “Camp Makrygianni” gendarmerie barracks, opposite the Theater of Dionysus. The barracks were built on public land and a limited number of expropriations of surrounding private houses were needed to free up the necessary space.
The collections of the museum are exhibited on three levels while a fourth middle level houses the auxiliary spaces such as the museum shop, the café and the offices. On the first level of the museum there are the findings of the slopes of the Acropolis.
The long and rectangular hall, whose floor is sloping, resembles the ascension to the rock. Then, the visitor is found at the large trapezoidal hall which accommodates the archaic findings.
On the same floor there are also the artifacts and sculptures from the other Acropolis buildings such as the Erechtheum, the Temple of Athena Nike and the Propylaea and findings from Roman and early Christian Athens.
However the visitor is intended to see the latter during descent so as to keep the chronological order because he will first be directed to the top level, which displays the Parthenon marbles. This original museum was the first building of its kind in Greece that was constructed specifically to be a museum.
After its completion, it was soon discovered that the structure was too small to hold the vast finding of the Acropolis area. A second museum was announced in 1888, but this eventually fell through and the option of extending the original edifice was chosen as a preferred option.
Solving the size issue for some decades, the growing tourism industry in the 1960s and 70s again proved that the museum was too small to match the thousands of visitors who wanted to see the priceless treasures within.
In 1976 Constantinos Karamanlis suggested that a new museum had to be built. After delays throughout the 1990s, work on the construction of the museum based on this third design progressed to the stage of excavations for the foundations, but these were stopped due to apparently sensitive archaeological remains on the site, leading to annulment of the competition in 1999.
National architecture competitions were immediately put into place, but no successful applicant was found, and so the project remained dormant for another decade. The New Acropolis Museum stands today as one of the most significant museums of ancient times.