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The Greek National Museum

The Greek National Museum

Igor Asselbergs

March 26, 2008

I recently visited the National Museum in Athens which houses the world’s largest collection of ancient Greek works of art. The collection is truly breathtaking. I can wholeheartedly recommend a visit. There is nevertheless something odd about the museum. A leaflet claims the museum intends to give a good impression of antique art. But nothwithstanding the splendor of the collection, it hardly gives good impression of art in antiquity at all.

There main body of the collection consists of a vast number of marble statues. All the statues in the museum are bare marble of a grey-yellowish hue. However, in antiquity the statues (and buildings, for that matter) were painted in bright colors (gaudy colors as some modern scholars keep insisting). So bare marble hardly gives a good impression at all. Being a color geek I paid attention, but in the whole museum there was hardly a mention of color or paint to be found. When I did finally spot a small indication, I photographed it. The small sign next to the statue is about all the museum has to say on the subject of color. It sure leaves me with the impression that color on antique statues are still taboo.

I would love to see larger pictures of virtually painted statues next to each and every original. It shouldn’t be much of a problem with a bit of modern technology combined with an old-fashioned sense of color.


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