By Vasiliki Mitsinoutou
ATHENS (AA) – The National Archaeological Museum of Athens celebrated International Museum Day with a dramatic recital of Homer’s Odyssey on Wednesday.
Chosen as the honored Greek museum of the year by the International Council of Museums (ICOM), the event began this morning with a theatrical reading of the 24 Odyssey rhapsodies and will go on until midnight.
“The Altar room was crowded, admissions were very high” said Konstantinos Nikoletsos, an archaeologist responsible for prehistoric antiquities at the museum. “The International Museum Day has made a difference. However, this is a great museum and we have seen a rise in yearly admissions from 250.000 to 400.000 people since 2013,” he added.
The National Archaeological Museum this year sees its 150-year anniversary and Wednesday’s central event was just a taste of celebrations which will take place from October.
“This museum is of great significance to the Greeks, it is connected to the struggles of Greece throughout its history and its national ideology,” Nikoletsos added. “For example, there was a struggle to secure its’ artifacts from the Nazi occupation”.
Although its original purpose was to secure all the finds from the 19th century excavations in and around Athens, it gradually became the central National Archaeological Museum and was enriched with finds from all over Greece.
Through its five large permanent collections, the museum says it “provides a panorama of the Greek civilization from the beginnings of Prehistory to Late Antiquity” with more than 11,000 exhibits.
The celebration of the International Museum Day will continue with a series of events (guided tours, walks, educational activities) until Sunday ending with an architectural tour will take place honoring this year’s theme chosen by ICOM members, ‘Museums and Cultural Landscapes’.
ICOM, an organization created in 1946 by and for museum professionals, now runs a unique network of 35,000 members from 136 countries. The events and activities planned on and around 18 May last a day, a weekend or a whole week with the aim to promote museum issues within society.