New Acropolis Museum: exhibits

by Stefan Fletcher June. 27, 2009 29057 views

If you’ve got nothing better to do, click here [photoblog.com] to read about the New Acropolis Museum and look at the engineering feat and architectural showcase it is. I’ll save you the effort of reading the 1,000-word rant afterwards with a summary. The new museum breaks the No. 1 rule for every museum: the container should never appear more important than the contents.

The pictures in this post are mostly about the contents: some of the exhibits hidden behind those vast concrete pillars – literally, in some cases.

A little technical information: artificial lighting generates a colour cast. Look at a white car under a streetlight at night and you’ll see it’s orange. Our brains compensate, but cameras do not have our mental agility. This is what the Automatic White Balance is for, and some cameras do it better than others. Museums use a variety of lighting systems and I am usually content to leave the slight orange cast on exhibits, especially sculptures, because I like the warm, living tone. The New Acropolis Museum is a tricky place to shoot exhibits because of the combination of natural and artificial lighting, which throws every camera off. The Caryatids are a case in point. I didn’t bother in the first NAM post; I’ve tried to correct for it here because my interest is the exhibit. The results vary in quality. Sorry. Shooting with a colour card below your subject is the usual way of fixing this.

I haven’t posted any exhibits behind glass because I was forced to surrender my camera bag at the entrance and left the UV circularizer in it. The glare was too hard to overcome.

About Automatic White Balance: if you think AWB stands for “Average White Band”, that means you are at least my age (sorry) and that you might find this forum post [photoblog.com] on colour casts in the forum useful.

A 3-D voting offering, no doubt to the ancient Greek god Lego.

I was utterly moved by the grace and flowing lines of this relief, which even the break seems to emphasise

A close-up of the Calf Bearer. I imagine the smile is because he's thinking about the dinner shortly to follow

A Kore (statue of a woman) hidden behind a concrete pillar

You may have already seen this one (I posted it in the last NAM), but that doesn't stop me from making the same joke: glueing balls back must be a difficult job

Proof that it's always better to be heartless or mindless than legless. This is from a frieze depicting the struggle between gods and giants. Athena on the left has just zapped her enemy on the right with an asp and only part of his foot remains.

The subject of the “arty” image in the previous NAM post, but taken from a different angle and this time, you can see what it was.

The NAM allows people to take photos, provided they don't use a flash. Unfortunately, a touch of fill-flash can be very useful when shooting a subject against a bright background. I might have been tempted but my camera does not have a pop-up flash unit. Here, I had to work on the image twice, with the subject re/over-exposed to show him off. The results are disappointing, mostly because of my sloppy editing. (I could never draw within the lines as a kid.) Note the ancient Greek crane on the Acropolis behind.

I don't know why, but I find this display rather disconcerting. Feel free to elucidate for me.

An exercise in extrapolation

My emblematic image of the NAM, a little old lady looking up in a long, cold setting. I shot her slightly closer up than the first image in the first NAM post. Which one is more effective in your opinion?

That extraordinary view again. The government tried to get all the buildings obstructing the view between the NAM and the Acropolis knocked down. Protests from local citizens put an end to that, I'm glad to say.

More of the same, with a breath-taking view of the Acropolis and the hill of Lykavittos, covered in this post [photoblog.com]

The Caryatids, a name given by posterity. (They were referred to simply as “Kore” in the Acropolis contemporary inventories.) The gap is for the missing one currently located in the British Museum. Excellent copies were placed in their original location up on the Acropolis.

New and Approved: Caryatids from behind. Note the detail of the hair and clothing. Wish I had hair like that.

More of same. Sorry about blue colour cast. Lost interest in correcting for it after the first 15 images. For an explanation, read the text below and click on the link to my post in the digital photography forum section here at PB.

The colour cast thing bothered so much I scanned the above from the official museum catalogue which I wanted to steal, but was forced to buy. Apologies for the poor scan, but the colours are accurate (compared to the book, anyway). The point is that even a pro, who can adjust lighting to suit and didn't have tourists around (photo taken months before official opening), can get it wrong. The walls aren't turquoise; they're grey and those statues are the same colour as in images 1, 2 and 15. Ha! I love photography.

The NAM is a cantilever construction built on pillars over fascinating archaeological ruins / a pile of ancient rubble (depending on your approach)

Of which you can see more here.

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There are 11 comments , add yours!
Thebronzebow 9 years, 9 months ago

I can understand you fascination with some pieces of stone. They are beautiful Re: #9.... maybe because it looks they're in the midst of being blown apart? Unlike the other pieces that are spaced to demonstrate the whole and your eye automatically fills in, these are too many, too far apart with no natural way to draw the eye. (IMHO :))

re the lady in the hallway, this one emphasizes her and her perspective on the frieze the other the massive length of both hallway and frieze. I like this one better myself.

re the turquoise/orange shift, in some ways the uncorrected color shifts serve to highlight the differences between the humanity portrayed in the art vs the disassociation of the building.

Thanks for taking us with you. :)

9 years, 9 months ago Edited
Hanna Westesson 9 years, 9 months ago

Beautiful ancient art!
I appreciate all you photos from the museum, good work.
I understand you are not all happy about the architecture but you have really captured the cathedral-like big halls well.

9 years, 9 months ago Edited
Jarvo J 9 years, 9 months ago

Some great shots of the musee. I rather like the one you found disconcerting. I guess it amuses me to see these dislocated pieces suspended there - I imagine that before my eyes the missing spaces will be filled in and we'd have a complete whole again.

On the little old lady question, I think the closer one is better, but that might just be my tired eyes struggling to see so well on the more distant shot.

Thanks very the info on white balance. I'm going to get a colour swatch. Ever the cheapskate, I want to see if I can get a freebie out of the DIY store. It's pleasing to see that the professionals get it wrong too. Actually thats twice in a day that I've seen this happen. I was watching the tele earlier and someone's bath tub turned from white to pink in two different scenes.

9 years, 9 months ago Edited
Marsha 9 years, 9 months ago

Much appreciate the tour. Can't even imagine being in the same room with such history...culture...beauty. Your great shots and interesting commentary make it seem like I'm there. #11 - if you're going for long and cold I think the one in your other post works better - the farther away she is the longer it looks....I think.

9 years, 9 months ago Edited
Jordijoan 9 years, 9 months ago

He estado mirando tus fotos y he llegado a la conclusión de que son maravillas en estado divino..........son geniales !!!!!!!!!!

9 years, 9 months ago Edited
Tomie Poodle 9 years, 9 months ago

superbe visite! la 7 est fantastic! aussi bien la scupture que la photo!

9 years, 9 months ago Edited
Mikkal Noptek 9 years, 9 months ago

Wonderful statues and pictures

9 years, 9 months ago Edited
Michael Sakowicz 9 years, 9 months ago

'Pick up the pieces...'

9 years, 9 months ago Edited
David Swatton 9 years, 9 months ago

Good set - and I know what you mean about #9.... could be straight out of Goya's "Disasters of War" engravings.

9 years, 9 months ago Edited
Kecskemétiné Nelli 9 years, 9 months ago

For №9 I think it would have been more interesting to include at least a drawing of the missing parts.
№11 I like more than the emblematic starting picture of the previous post. It focuses more on the lady than on the grandeur of the building.
And yes, I would also like such a cascade of hair like the Caryatids. =)
Since Gaarder I think Lego is the most ingenious toy in the world, and whenever I see an [i]archaic smile[/i] (not too often), I always try to imitate it.

9 years, 9 months ago Edited
Doris 9 years, 9 months ago

It`s very impressing to visit this Museum again with you. Yes, I`m also very impressed by that relief (2), but also by the broken statue (7) and the composition of No 10.

9 years, 9 months ago Edited
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