KALAMATA, Greece – It is not hard to take a “trip” into the past at the archaeological site of Ancient Messene, which is considered a model of archaeological excavation, restoration and preservation. More recently, however, the site has also helped its visitors connect with the cultural present, hosting exhibitions of contemporary art by Zoggolopoulos and Chouliaras, or concerts and theatrical performances in the ancient theatre.
According to Prof. Petros Themelis, who has directed the excavation in Ancient Messene since 1986, such events are vital in order to ‘socialise’ the archaeological site and establish a connection with the public.
“It has been an aim of mine from long ago, to have a sort of open archaeological site that is… ‘socialised,’ as I call it. Because I believe that monuments should be open to the public and become poles of interest, which are educational but also economic, since many people come, they leave money, they stay in hotels, eat at restaurants,” Themelis said.
Regarding the Zoggolopoulos-Chouliaras exhibition that will run until the end of September, he said that this had gone very well even though it was quite unusual, being an exhibition of modern sculpture in an ancient site.
“We started with female artists the year before last, with Ioli Xifara and Alexandra Athanasiadou, with fresco paintings that can withstand the outdoors, and this year we went even further. In selected places, discreetly, we positioned 22 modern art sculptures of fairly large size, all of them metallic, while are spread out from the northern section of the Agora up to the Palaestra. Both the artists and the curator Iris Kritikou were enthralled with the site and we have received many positive comments,” he said.
While there were also some less positive comments, he added, this was to be expected with modern art that needed time to get to know and understand.
“It is an innovation that will continue and every year we will show more works in the site,” he said.