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Opening date set for long-delayed Acropolis Museum

Greece is to open its long-delayed Acropolis Museum this June, Culture Minister Antonis Samaras said Friday.

Greece is to open its long-delayed Acropolis Museum this June, Culture Minister Antonis Samaras said Friday.

The 100-million euro project was originally scheduled for opening in 2004, ahead of the Athens Olympics.

The museum, located at the foot of the ancient Acropolis, a hill that is home to ancient temples including the Parthenon, has been plagued by construction delays and legal wrangling.

Designed by New York architect Bernard Tschumi in collaboration with Greece's Michalis Photiadis, the museum is a cornerstone in Greece's long-running dispute with Britain over the Elgin Marbles.

Greece has long argued that Britain should return the Elgin Marbles, now housed in the British Museum, to their home country.

Greek officials argue the museum would allow all the surviving Acropolis sculptures to be displayed together, with the Parthenon as a backdrop.

Scottish diplomat Lord Elgin removed the marbles from the Parthenon temple 200 years ago, at a time when Greece was under Ottoman rule.

The British Museum, which bought the marbles from Elgin, argues it acquired them legally. It says the public has better access to see the marbles where they are today.

The Acropolis Museum will display more than 4,000 ancient works in 20,000 square metres of display space.

It was designed with glass walls that allow viewers to see many of the ancient sculptures from outside the building and view the Parthenon from inside the museum.

The Parthenon, a fifth-century temple dedicated to the god Athena, had its roof blown off in a 17th-century explosion, when it was used by the Ottomans for munitions storage. The marbles taken by Elgin were fragments left after the blast.

An opening ceremony is planned for June 20.

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