On Saturday 13th November 2021 the works of the International Meeting for the restoration of the Acropolis Monument ended. The Meeting was organised by The Acropolis Restoration Service (YSMA) and the Committee for the Conservation of the Acropolis monuments (ESMA) in collaboration with the Ephorate of Antiquities of the City of Athens and the Acropolis Museum. The Meeting, held in the Acropolis Museum, lasted three days.
The Meeting started on Thursday 11 November with the addresses of the President of the Acropolis Museum professor emeritus Dimitris Pandermalis and the Director-General of the Acropolis Museum Nikos Stampolidis; the Minister of Culture Lina Mendoni gave a speech that focused on the completed and future works on the Acropolis Rock. Special attention was given to the need for collaboration of the relevant departments of the Ministry of Culture and Sports and the utilisation of all available financial resources including private funding.
In her speech Lina Mendoni, discussing the works now in progress, mentioned: “Within the context of the current NSRF 2014-2020 the ministry of Culture and Sports is currently conducting works centred around the repair and restoration of the old Acropolis Museum. It is a well-known Athenian building situated in a prominent position near the Parthenon that converses with the monument. This building is to host contemporary, innovative, high standard, physical and digital events and exhibitions. The programme of digital revival with the use of artificial intelligence technologies that we inaugurated yesterday at Ancient Olympia shows the way to the possibilities of tomorrow.
In addition, we should mention the re-opening of the “Kolettis Residence’, at 13 Polignotou street, to be used as a Documentation Centre for the Acropolis Works. The work, of a cost of 3.300.000 euros, which in April 2021 was included in the Public Investment Program, is now at the stage of selecting contractor. The Documentation Centre will be named “Charalambos Bouras” in honour of the late humanist teacher who, as President of the Committee for the Conservation of the Acropolis Monuments, dedicated a large part of his life to the Acropolis. This work will not only help to decongest the space of YSMA’s offices but also, as part of our national policies regarding the restoration and creative reuse of old buildings owned by the Ministry of Culture at Plaka, it will convert these buildings into cultural centres; an example of this is the case of a nearby building, situated on Dioskouroi street that is being restored in order to accommodate the Archive of Odysseas Elytis.” The Minister also mentioned that in August 2021 the continuation of the work on the Acropolis monuments, of a cost of 10.000.000 euros, was included in the National Recovery and Resilience Plan; its implementation was appointed to the Acropolis Restoration Service.
Then, Georgios Didaskalou, the Secretary General of Culture, made a speech on the importance of the restoration works that are being conducted within the guidelines set by the Venice Charter and International Conventions; he also mentioned works upgrading the existing infrastructure that happened in the last two years despite the difficulties caused by the covid-19 pandemic.
Afterwards, the competent authorities of the Ministry of Culture and Sports, the Ephorate of Antiquities of the City of Athens, the Directorate of Restoration of Ancient Monuments, and the Acropolis Restoration Service, presented the completed and the current programmes run on the Acropolis Rock, analysed theoretical principles that govern the restoration works on the Acropolis and introduced to the participants and attendees of the Meeting the restoration study of the west access to the Acropolis.
In the second day (Friday 12 November) the participants were guided around the Acropolis archaeological site, in the afternoon of the same day the presentation of the Masterplan for the interventions on the Acropolis walls and examples from archaeological sites in Italy followed.
The third day (Saturday 13 November) was devoted to a scientific debate where the participants expressed their opinions on the presentations of the first two days of the meeting. The participants commented either online or in person.
The outcomes of the Meeting can be summarised as follows:
- The studies presented in the Meeting lead to a new restoration approach that does not only concern the monuments on the Acropolis Rock but also the surrounding area. In these 45 years since the beginning of the works conditions have changed, new problems arose, and it is certain that more problems will appear in the future. A new current management plan, in which all the future studies and works will be included, should consider issues of climate change and sustainability.
- In the Meeting the work regarding the new walkways of the archaeological site, which had caused many controversial arguments, was also presented. These talks included extensive information relevant to the designing of the walkways, the technical characteristics and the materials that had been used. This information confirms that the conducted works recognise the value of the monuments and the archaeological remnants and do not endanger the integrity of the Acropolis as a monument of the World Cultural Heritage.
- The Meeting approved the proposals for the restoration of the west access to the Acropolis. The participants accepted that the study complies with ESMA’s principles, corrects past mistakes, and restores the topography, while it is based on a thorough study and documentation of the archaeological remnants. Moreover, a case study should be implemented to allow for a deeper understanding. What was stressed was the need to re-examine the plan concerning the movement of the visitors around the archaeological site and ensure their smooth and controlled flow.
- In the Meeting most of the participants agreed that the study of the wall ensures the protection of the findings of all different periods. The main goal of the interventions is to safeguard the structure of the wall and also expose its initial structure by restoring its classical form on the areas of the wall that had been sketchy repaired and in a way that lacks any technical or architectural interest
- Finally it became clear during the meeting that ESMA and YSMA remain at the forefront of research concerning issues relevant to intervention materials and the use of new technologies.
In the Meeting, of hybrid character, registered as participants a total of 250, 75 in person and the rest online. In addition, the web page of the Meeting accumulated 2725 views, 423 single visitors from 16 countries. During the Meeting, the live streaming on YouTube reached 3579 views. The recordings of the Meeting proceedings can be seen on YSMA’s channel, YouTube: Acropolis Restoration Service.
Looking back to the 6th International Meeting when around 300 people participated, and 27 took part in the discussion, we can say that the 7th International Meeting was really as successful as it had more than 650 participants, 30 of whom took part in the discussion of the third day, despite the difficulties caused by the pandemic.
The proceedings will be printed following ESMA’s standard practice.
The exhibition of the drawings included in the studies presented in the Meeting, will remain in the temporary exhibition hall of the Acropolis Museum for the following weekends, 20-21 and 27-28 November, during the Museum opening hours.
Online participants wishing to visit the Acropolis worksites can apply until 22 November to the address [email protected] in order to organize one more visit.