New Acropolis Museum by Bernard Tschumi



Bernard Tschumi Architects has completed the New Acropolis Museum in Athens, Greece.


The museum will provide a permanent house to archaeological treasures from the Acropolis. Top image: main entrance lobby. Photo by Nikos Daniilidis. Above: exterior. Photo by Christian Richters.


Glass walls will allow exhibits to be viewed in natural light, as they would have been seen in ancient times. Above: view from the archaeological excavations, looking up to the ground level. Photo by Christian Richters.


More than 100 concrete pillars support the building over the remains of an ancient Athenian city, discovered during pre-construction. Above: outside ground level, looking down at the archaeological excavations. Photo byNikos Daniilidis.


Above: statues from the Porch of the Caryatids welcome visitors. Photo by Vasilis Vrettos.


Above: looking towards the Acropolis from the Parthenon Gallery, prior to installation. Photo by Christian Richters.


Above: view of the Parthenon from outside the New Acropolis Museum. Photo by Bernard Tschumi Architects


Above: a view of the New Acropolis Museum from the Acropolis.

Here's some more information from the architects:




New York, NY, April 7, 2009 — The historic masterpieces of the New Acropolis Museum—from the archaeological remains of ancient Athens left visible beneath the building to the glorious Parthenon frieze installed at the top— will be displayed in total for the first time when the Museum celebrates its much-anticipated official opening on Saturday, June 20, 2009.


Designed by Bernard Tschumi Architects of New York/Paris with Michael Photiadis of Athens as local associate architect, the Museum has presented a number of temporary exhibitions in a lower-floor gallery over the past year. With the official opening, visitors will at last view the full suite of galleries, presented in a dramatic architectural experience designed explicitly for this collection.


With more than 150,000 square feet of exhibition space—ten times more than the previous Acropolis museum—the New Acropolis Museum will display surviving antiquities from the Acropolis and serve as a catalyst for strengthening international interest in the classical world. The 226,000 square foot Museum is both a defining cultural project for Greece and a key reference point for the art community around the globe.

To present the unparalleled collection, architect and lead designer Bernard Tschumi created a deliberately non-monumental structure whose simple and precise design invokes the mathematical and conceptual clarity of ancient Greek architecture.

“The form of the building arose as a response to the challenges of creating a structure that was worthy of housing the most dramatic sculptures of Greek antiquity, and doing so in an overwhelmingly historic and monumental setting,” explains Tschumi. “The site at the foot of the Acropolis confronted us with the Parthenon itself, one of the most influential buildings in Western civilization. At the same time, we had to consider the sensitive archaeological excavations, the presence of the contemporary city and its street grid, and the special challenges of the hot climate in Athens and an earthquake region.

Located in Athens’s historic area of Makryianni, the New Acropolis Museum stands less than 1,000 feet southeast of the Parthenon, at the entrance of a network of pedestrian walkways that link the key archaeological sites and monuments of the Acropolis. This location was carefully selected to enable a dialogue between the Museum’s exhibition spaces and the Acropolis buildings. Tschumi won the commission in 2001 as the result of a design competition judged by a prestigious jury of architects, engineers, and archaeologists, chaired by Santiago Calatrava.

“The design was chosen for its simple, clear, and beautiful solution that is in accord with the beauty and classical simplicity of the Museum's unique exhibits and that ensures a museological and architectural experience that is relevant today and for the foreseeable future,” stated Professor Dimitrios Pandermalis, President of the Organization for the Construction of the New Acropolis Museum.

During pre-construction, archaeologists discovered the remains of an ancient Athenian city, excavating over 43,000 square feet. These remains have been preserved and integrated into the Museum design and are an important part of the visitor experience.

The building is articulated in three layers, with a base, a middle zone, and a top. The base hovers over the excavation site on more than 100 slender concrete pillars, which have been individually positioned with the help of experts so as not to disturb the delicate remnants. This level contains the main entrance lobby and temporary exhibition spaces, as well as openings and glass floors looking onto archaeological excavations.

A glass ramp leads to a double-height space in the middle section, which accommodates the permanent collection galleries from the Archaic to the late Roman period, and a mezzanine level with catering venues and a public terrace.

The building culminates in the Parthenon Gallery, a rectangular, glass-enclosed, sky-lit space that is rotated 23 degrees from the rest of the building so as to align with the Parthenon. The gallery’s glass outer walls allow visitors uninterrupted, 360-degree views of the ancient temple and the surrounding city. In the center of the Parthenon Gallery, the rectangular concrete core of the Museum serves as the wall on which the Parthenon frieze is exhibited, placed in the exact same arrangement and orientation as when it adorned the monument.

The route through these layers forms a three-dimensional loop, guiding visitors through the collection, which is installed in chronological sequence. Beginning with the archaeological excavations, visible through the glass floor in the entrance gallery, the sequence reaches a programmatic high point with the Parthenon Frieze, set in a gallery at the top of the building against dramatic views of the Acropolis, and then loops down to finish in the Roman Empire galleries below. The sequence of movement through the Museum’s exhibitions is designed to be of the utmost clarity and to accommodate the large groups of visitors expected daily.

The collection of the New Acropolis Museum consists principally of sculptures, many of which originally decorated the monuments of the Acropolis. These works were created to be viewed in daylight, illuminated by subtle changes in light throughout the day. Extensive use of glass in the building’s design allows the integration of natural light into the galleries, thus ensuring similar exhibition conditions. Ambient natural light floods the top-floor Parthenon Gallery and is filtered through the gallery’s glass-floored atrium into the floors below. Skylights, walls of shaded glass, and rectangular openings also help light flow through the building.

Throughout the New Acropolis Museum, glass, concrete and marble have been used to complement the simplicity of the overall design. Concrete provides the main building structure and acts as a neutral backdrop for the artwork. Circular holes have been placed at intervals throughout the concrete walls in order to absorb sound. Local marble has been used on the floors, with dark stone used for circulation and light beige for the galleries.

The New Acropolis Museum features galleries for the permanent collection, galleries for special exhibitions, a 200-seat auditorium, a multimedia space, a Museum store, a bar and restaurant, and support facilities. It is surrounded by 75,000 square feet of landscaped gardens. The overall project budget for the Museum was €130 million, or approximately $175 million.

Bernard Tschumi Architects
Bernard Tschumi Architects is an internationally-based firm dedicated to the interface between 21st-century conditions and architecture. Opened with the commission for the celebrated Parc de la Villette in Paris (begun in 1983), completed projects by the firm include Le Fresnoy National Studio for Contemporary Arts in Tourcoing, France (1997); Columbia University’s Lerner Hall Student Center in New York (1999); an 8,000-person Concert Hall and Exhibition Complex in Rouen, France (2001); Florida International University School of Architecture in Miami, Florida (2003); the Vacheron-Constantin Headquarters and Manufacturing Complex in Geneva (2004); the Richard E. Lindner Athletics Center at the University of Cincinnati (2006); a 6,000-seat Concert Hall in Limoges, France (2007); and Blue Tower, New York (2008). Between 2006 and 2008, Bernard Tschumi Architects designed comprehensive master plans for the Independent Financial Centre of the Americas in the Dominican Republic and new media zones in Singapore and Abu Dhabi, UAE. Currently under construction are a cultural center in Bordeaux-Cenon and a museum and archaeological park in Alesia, France. Architect and lead designer for the New Acropolis Museum, Bernard Tschumi founded Bernard Tschumi Architects in 1983, after winning a competition to design the Parc de la Villette, a 125-acre public park containing dramatic buildings, walkways, bridges and gardens, located at the northeast edge of Paris. A renowned theorist as well as an architect, he was Dean of the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University in New York from 1988 to 2003. He is the author of ten books, including the Event-Cities series and Architecture and Disjunction, as well as numerous articles.

Tschumi is a member of the Collège International de Philosophie in France and the recipient of many honors, including the Légion d’Honneur, the Ordre des Arts et Lettres and the Royal Victoria Medal. He has been awarded France’s Grand Prix National d’Architecture and the AIA New York Gold Medal of Honor. He is an International Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects. Most recently, he was awarded membership in the prestigious College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects.

New Acropolis Museum Collection
The rich collections of the New Acropolis Museum, dating from prehistoric times through to the Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic and Roman periods and up to late Antiquity (1,000 B.C. to 700 A.D.), will provide visitors with a comprehensive picture of the centuries-old human presence on the sacred site that represents the essence of classical culture in antiquity. With approximately 4,000 objects, of which at least 300 are considered major masterpieces, the opening of the New Acropolis Museum marks the first time that the collection will be displayed together in one museum, telling the complete story of the Athenian Acropolis and its foothills. At the same time, the extensive remains of the ancient Athenian city revealed on the Museum site by pre-construction archaeological excavations will also grace the museum exhibition program with rare, original testimonies of the private lives of the ancient Athenians who lived in the shadow of the Acropolis.

Posted on Friday April 10th 2009 at 3:10 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • armeyn

    Wow!! so bernard Tschumi is “still Alive” ???

  • rolka

    Volumes themselves are coherent to each other, as well as relations of dimensions and materials….somehow they seem to be aesthetic, considering the building itself.
    However, trying to have an opinion from an amateur point of view, the image, where the buliding is placed in to the city raster…just seems to ignore the history, rather than respect it.

    I understand the economic reasons, but…is it all that matters in architecture?…It sure appears to.

  • Ioseb


    I would have loved to see how H&deM would have done here.

  • Tyler

    I think this structure is absolutely exquisite. I do think that, as Rolka says, it does tend to ignore the surrounding history, however the way the fenestration works on the lower level, it echoes an ancient colonnade in a very contemporary, rather than post-modern way. Bravo!

  • Joe

    It seems to acknowledge the classical style somehow, while staying painfully contemporary.

  • Niels

    I don’t think that the building ignores the history of the city. The scale of the project is bigger than that of the buildings in it’s environment but I don’t even know for sure if that’s troublesome. I think Tschumi doesn’t copy architecture from Athens’ history but rather tries the develop a new architecture in line with the old by consequently using repetition, mass, symmetry and a complex experience of inside/outside. I think the design is a beautiful answer to it’s context.

  • slater

    I suppose I’ll just have to make another trip to Athens to see this first hand, well done!

  • windbag


  • jorgca

    I agree with Niels.
    The image where the Acropolis reflects in Tschumi’s facade and almost “stretches” itself is beautiful.
    Great job

  • The staircase with the be-holed walls looks exactly like the “Portal” game hallways/stairs.

  • Looks like a big corporate building which we can see on any suburban sprawl around developping countries.

  • Cherry

    This scale seems to me a contemporary version of Parthenon which wants to be the city centre of what Parthenon used to be in ancient time…

  • claude.mallia

    Finally some Architecture with a capital A
    massive, masculine, volumes,
    thanks to the godS.

    and btw..
    fu-k previous comment, H&deM would have made another blunder!

  • rober1000x

    its a great building…the scale……the new contemporary image….just according with what is it

  • hmmmmmmm


  • mil

    ¿looks like an airport?

  • snow

    from all the drawings and renderings i thought this would be a disaster but the finished product, at least in these images, looks remarkably crisp and considered. bravo.

  • abdulqadirabas

    I’m not preferring the size and numbers of the columns,not to mention the mass and solid of the building.I think it should be in turn of respecting and minimising impacts of the museum to the site, so it will reveals more of the actual history and site below it.Anyway tschumi has his own design’s strategy.It is a beautiful-beautiful building, i love it so much if it’s not been there.I wonder what will happen if herzog/de meuron and SANAA collaborate together putting something overthere! :p
    Beautiful work.

  • One

    Big Chanky design, a master work of an French-Swiss architect who practice in NYC… Symbolic, but not retro active….

  • Ioseb

    claude.mallia _ things have changed since 1950’s. Someone’s falling behind..

  • Adf

    There is very contextually…

  • bob

    simple question really – what about the context?

  • Brian

    If you knew the site problems, as well as how dense the living is there, you would not be complaining so!

    It is a very linear result- yes, however the grandeur evoked is very impressive.

    What do you think it should have been make out of- meat?

  • huh?

    you can make all these conclusions from a few pictures?

  • Erik

    Completely horrific. A spaceship among its context. A tin box among daimonds.

  • N

    I have not seen the interiors which are rumoured to be exquisite. However, the building’s exterior is IMHO too aggressive and dominating. The scale is all wrong as is the location of the site, although through no fault of Tschumi’s. I expected something more contextual, somehow echoing the Acropolis without in any way copying it, evoking a sense of lightness and interacting with the brilliant light of Athens while at the same time employing a novel vocabulary. I did not anticipate a Guggenheim effect of any kind but I do think that the Acropolis Museum is a lost opportunity for a city badly lacking in good contemporary architecture.

  • Pranav

    Brillant design….look at it, the built form is morphing with the surrounding

  • Tp

    What a respect to the past…


  • Michael Finlan

    They forgot toilets.

  • Jessica Price

    So sad Tschumi’s case. He became so old, never reinvented himself as his fellows like Koolhaas and Zaha did. it seems that after he stepped down as a dean from Columbia, he just lost it.
    The blue tower at LES in NY is an example of how boring his designs can be. He used to be a great thinker. Not anymore; he seems lost and tired… could not ride the wave as Rem, Zaha H & de M, Jean Nouvel have been doing for the last years.

    so long farewell…

  • rene ghelman

    1. Looking at those (few) immages, I dare exepress my modest opinion that I’d appreciate Tschumi’s “intention” for not to compete with the ancient monument of Acropolis. Did he managed it ? I’m in doubt.
    2. However I feel there is a discordance between the ( I think) small space of the “object” (the antique remains) , and the new architectural surrounding.
    3. I totally agree with the idea that all pieces wich were taken in the past(doesn’t matter the way) from the Acropolis, should be returned at the original place.
    In the same idea, I mention some other ancient art products wich are not there where they should be: Nefertiti (in Berlin museum); Tutankamon mask (in Cairo museum and not at the pharaoh’s tomb); Mona Lisa (at Le Louvre); the statue od

  • John

    Tschumi has never made a good building.

  • F.G.I.

    Scale, scale, scale! – Bigness cannot be rendered inconspicuous simply by means of bareness. Big CAN be beautifully subtle (Ashplund, Saarinen, Pleznic, Aalto, Van der Rohe, et al.) but this requires a level of craft and inspiration unfortunately not displayed here…

  • This building is example of how not to build museums… One visit of it will influence you more than whole semester of exhibition lectures. The building itself is monument which Tschumi has built to himself. Whole one floor is dedicated to restaurant and souvenir shop – it’s pure commerce. I even expected to find board offering meals in front of the entrance (happily there was none).

    Proportions of the building are definitely not ancient Greek ones. The massive columns are of Egyptian proportions to the building. The construction principles don’t respect ancient Greek tradition at all. Boutique-like plasterboard ceiling with boutique-like lightning in building that tries to look monumentally? But only tries, because it’s broken into pieces by terrible details.

    Each and every one exhibit is presented completely wrong. The enormous walls of stainless steel with quite good natural lightning should be background to the white statues. Instead of it there are small niches with the smallest exhibits in the walls. The statues are presented in “gallery” where all the attention is paid to enormous columns. The statues are situated higgledy-piggledy around them. And what’s more, the “gallery” is completely overlighted up by the sun through white glass wall. In such conditions, the statues suffers – no one can enjoy them, they are situated so wrong, that everybody rushes into them and there are no barriers, so everyone can touch them when the guardians cannot see him.

    And where is the Parthenon? They claim that the museum is modern reconstruction of the Parthenon. Yes I know, they mean the core of the building. But the proportions of it, and it’s different on every floor. The top of the building, the most important part of it, is also the most terrible part of it. The tympanum on the floor instead of on the top and the acroteria mediana in the corner of the room… They have money to squander at the columns and the glass floor and stainless steel, but not enough of money to make the building little higher for the tympanum and the acroteria.

    PS: The only exhibit which is presented correctly and perfectly is none of the ancient exhibits, it’s wash-basin in the toilets. White wash-basin, black background and perfect lightning…

  • aggy12345

    does anyone know where the plans and sections can be found?

  • barış ayseven

    I dont like the upper part. it seems İt place d after the building. It can't intergrate the beautiful part.But lower part is Marvellous

  • americageo

    Google Street View of Acropolis Museum