Sunday, August 22, 2010

Archaeological Museum of Thera

An old school museum like the Archaeological Museum of Naxos last year. Well. This museum makes the Museum of Prehistoric Thera look like the very peak of museological perfection. The museum is in every way "old-school".

It is made up of wooden cases with dirty glass and one label per 30 exhibits or so, beyond the label saying 7th Century cemetery of Ancient Thera. There's not much to say museologically. The cases need renewing, the building has problems with water entering and causing walls to pop and the iron inside the concrete to crack in certain places (and this on an island which is traditionally considered dry).

General view of the main room with the old wooden cases and the kouros statues facing away. However brilliant this was in the sixties, it does not really cut today. Spot the bits of plaster / paint peeling off towards the top right of the photo...

The exhibition itself contains a pretty interesting batch of finds from all the periods usually covered. There are some very nice Attic ceramics, some daedalic figurines from graveyards and the sanctuary of Aphrodite and some good kouros statues. There is plenty of potential for this museum to be spruced up nicely, but at the moment it remains a type-case example of the crap old-school approach to museums as warehouses of stored antiquities.

One of the old Daedalic statuettes - from the sanctuary of Aphrodite and possibly mimicking a form more suited to a wooden xoanon.

And out of all the chaos and all the complaints, you come across a gem like this attic black-figure krater (mixing bowl) and everything else kind-of fades into insignificance. This piece alone (the photo does not do it justice) is worth the walk up to the museum past all the shops selling kitsch kak to tourists with perfect teeth and deep pockets.

And that's all I'm going to say about that.

Bad present conditions or bad restoration at some unknown point in the past? An old prehistoric pot is slowly crumbling into dust in its display case.

No self-respecting art lover holds the Roman era in much esteem. It is, however, a little extreme to put the Roman period statuary quite literally in the museum's broom cupboard...

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