Design and Mission of New Acropolis Museum Explored in Upcoming Exhibition at Columbia

Media contact: Nick Obourn, 212-854-8336,
NEW YORK, Sept. 25, 2009—As the world celebrates the recent opening of the new Acropolis Museum in Athens, Columbia University’s Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery is preparing to open an exhibition on the building itself—its innovative architecture and the major role it plays at the nexus of Greco-Roman cultural and archeological history.
The exhibition, The New Acropolis Museum, is open to the public from Wednesday, October 21, through Saturday, December 19. Two public lectures, made possible by the Onassis Foundation, are scheduled. Admission to the exhibition and the related programming is free of charge.
The new Acropolis Museum, which opened in June, is architecturally stunning, strategically sited to be in visual dialogue with the Sacred Rock of the Athenian Acropolis. It 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 which provide insight into the conception, planning and construction of the museum. 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 archeological 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 architecture and iconography in Columbia’s department of art history and archaeology, is serving as curator of this exhibition.
In conjunction with the exhibition, the Wallach Art Gallery is issuing an illustrated publication with essays by the curator, by Angelos Chaniotis, a noted authority in classical studies, and by Dimitrios Pandermalis, director of the Acropolis Museum, as well as a statement by Tschumi.
Wallach Art Gallery is located on the eighth floor of Schermerhorn Hall on Columbia’s Morningside Heights campus, 116th Street and Broadway in Manhattan. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. To learn more, call 212-854-2877.
Public lectures
The Parthenon and the Decline of Greek Architecture by Lothar Haselberger, the Morris Russell and Josephine Chidsey Williams Professor of Art History at the University of Pennsylvania
Tuesday, October 13, 6:30 p.m., Room 612 Schermerhorn Hall
The Parthenon Sculptures and Periklean Policies by Jenifer Neils, the Ruth Coulter Heede Professor of Art History at Case Western Reserve University
Wednesday, November 11, 6:30 p.m., Room 612 Schermerhorn Hall
About the Wallach Art Gallery
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery aims to contribute to Columbia’s long-standing tradition of historical, critical and creative engagement in the visual arts. Since its establishment in 1986, the gallery, modeled on a laboratory, has been a forum for exhibitions related to research by graduate students, faculty and other scholars. The programming provides a bridge between the university’s diverse interests and approaches to the arts and a broad public audience.
About Columbia University
A leading academic and research university, Columbia University continually seeks to advance the frontiers of knowledge and to foster a campus community deeply engaged in understanding and addressing the complex global issues of our time. Columbia’s extensive public service initiatives, cultural collaborations, and community partnerships help define the university’s underlying values and mission to educate students to be both leading scholars and informed, engaged citizens. Founded in 1754 as King’s College, Columbia University in the City of New York is the fifth oldest institution of higher learning in the United States.
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