Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Out of storage and into the courtyard in Thessaloniki

A small archaeological park in the pipeline for museum grounds

By Iota Sykka - Kathimerini

The Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki has found a way to make the most of its outdoor space and to realize, though on a smaller scale, a longstanding ambition.

Alongside building improvements, new workshops and storerooms, as well as new fencing that will create a natural wall and enhance the greenery, there are plans for a small archaeological park.

The open-air exhibition will include 70 sarcophagi, 53 altars and Greco-Roman mosaic floors from Thessaloniki that will be taken from the museum's storerooms for the purpose.

«The archaeological park will start with the reconstruction of an ancient cemetery road running parallel to Stratou Avenue,» said the museum's director, Christina Zarkada. The study, which has already been approved, places the sarcophagi on either side of the road, and the altars in the area surrounding the museum.

There will be a reconstructed, actual-size villa from Roman Thessaloniki (2nd-4th century AD), with the typical layout of spaces around a peristyle.

The 70 sarcophagi will be grouped into five categories, depending on whether they are of local origin, adorned or unadorned, with or without inscriptions, reliefs and garlands, or from the Assos workshop. The 53 altars on display will also be grouped.

The exhibits will be shown in their natural surroundings, as Zarkada noted. The mosaics have been chosen for their durability.

One part of the study is still pending, that part which involves linking the environs of the Archaeological Museum and of the Museum of Byzantine Culture (in addition to the shared ticket which visitors can already choose).

Approval for a proposed 12-meter underground passage that would link the two museums and also provide space for temporary exhibitions will be discussed at a future meeting.

The revamping of the museum and the new outdoor exhibition space, budgeted at just over 5 million euros, are expected to boost the number of visitors to a museum which offers an acquaintance with the world of ancient Macedonia.

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