OK, I admit it – since the opening of the New Acropolis Museum I’ve been lax about this oldie but goodie museum. I’ve had my reasons. While it is a terrific collection, I have to admit that I write mostly for our guests, and since our vacation rentals in Athens are often home to families visiting Athens, Greece with their children, I try to include alot of family friendly activities on the true-athens.com website. And while I am not suggesting that the National Archeological Museum is un-child friendly, I have found over the years that alot of kids (and adults for that matter) become completely overwhelmed upon arriving at this particular museum. And so while it hosts a fabulous collection of Greek archeological finds, I think that the new museum with its smaller collection is a bit more child friendly. (OK, I admit to suffering from vase overload even as an adult, so it isn’t just a childhood syndrome).
I’ve seen the error in my ways, since I think that two exhibits warrent a visit, and, if you can swing a private guide, you’ll have a fantastic time exploring the collection with someone who can help you navigate it. Guided or alone, do not miss:
1. The Antikythera Mechanism
Ancient meets modern, they knew so much back then it continues to amaze me. And just in the last 5 years there’s been a new focus on the world’s first computer, found by sponge divers at the bottom of the sea near the island of Antikythera. Want to really engage your know-it-all or disinterested teen on your Greek holiday? Have them visit the Antikythera Research Project before you head to the National Archeological Museum.
2. The Boy on the Horse
My husband Basil turned me on to this sculpture, and I’ve been smitten with him every since. I’m not sure which boy I love more. The bronzed boy jockey who surprises me every time I return for a visit since the previous time I saw him I was certain he would gallop straight out of the museum and down Patission street and be lost to us forever; or the image I have of Vasilaki, my own Basil, as a little boy, sneaking away from his home a few blocks away from the museum, intent on gaining access to the imposing Neo-Classical building to admire his own favorite ancient sculpture, the boy jockey on a horse. (Funny side note about this boy, amongst my thousands of photos of Athens, it seems that I’ve written him to memory rather than to a memory card, so kudos to Albert Fried-Cassorla for sharing his photo with me.)
I know, the title of this post is “free admission to the National Archeological Museum” so if you are lucky enough to be in Athens on December 19, 2010, it’s your chance for free access in honor of the International Day of the Child. From 11 AM there will be activities for children, though primarily aimed at Greek children, so they’ll be in Greek – but that should not stop youngster and the young at heart from taking advantage of a chance to explore Athens’ fantastic (and immense!) archeological museum.
Of course if you are reading this after December 19, 2010 – there are still a few chances for free admission:
Free admission days
March 6 (in memory of Melina Mercouri)
June 5 (International Enviroment Day)
April 18 (International Monuments Day)
May 18 (International Museums Day)
The last weekend of September annually (European Heritage Days)
Sundays in the period between November 1 and March 31 (hey, this would include December 19, which is a Sunday – I wonder if the Ministry of Culture needs to update their website?)
National Holidays (when the Museum is open!)
The first Sunday of every month, except for July, August and September (when the first Sunday is holiday, then the second is the free admission day.)
September 27, International Tourism Day
All other days admission is 7 euro for adults, 3 euro reduced admission
The opening hours for the National Archaeological Museum from
Tuesday-Sunday: 8:30 am-3:00 pm
The National Archaeological Museum is closed on December 25 – 26, January 1, March 25, Orthodox Easter Sunday and May 1.