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Greece

Set Back by Pandemic, Olympic Museum in Athens Finally Opens

ATHENS — Chronicling the history of the Olympic Games that began in Ancient Greece, resumed again in Athens in 1896 and then sold off to the highest bidding cities and moving around the world, a museum following Olympics history has opened in Athens, a year late because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The museum is in mall in the Golden Hall in the Maroussi neighborhood of Athens, near the Olympic Stadium that hosted the track and field activities and other events for the 2004 Games before falling into disrepair.

The museum occupies some 3,500 square meters (36,674 square feet) and tells the story of the Olympic Games in displays which the designers claim will be "clean, welcoming and engaging,” reported Inside the Games.

A display focuses on the origins of the ancient Games, and a hall is dedicated to Ancient Olympia, where the ancient games were held and which is still a major draw to tourists and sports and Olympic enthusiasts.

A 9-meter high (29.5 feet) wall sets off what the site said was a striking graphic portrayal with posters and information on each a celebration of the modern Games right through to 2021 – that being the 2020 Tokyo Games that were postponed and are in danger of being canceled outright because of COVID-19.

There is also a specific room dedicated to the Athens 2004 Olympics including props used during the spectacular Opening Ceremony that riveted the attention of the world to the real home of the games that keeps being moved elsewhere.

The displays also focus on the wider Olympic Movement, the role of athletes and the sports of the Games although apparently not how the United States went along with Adolf Hitler barring American Jewish athletes and using the 1936 Berlin Games as a propaganda stage nor any controversies, including drugs.

The exhibition space has been designed by local architecture practice KLab and Mulo Creative Lab. "We had infinite sources of inspiration for the overall composition," KLab director Konstantinos Labrinopoulos told the site.

"We had many objects to work with, supported by other museums and cultural bodies. Our design, to an extent, highlights the sense of sporting competition, through the depictions of athletes in motion, which in turn is a narration of the idea of evolution of sports through time,” he added.

The first entry in the visitor book is that of International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach who was given a preview of the museum during his short visit to Athens in April.

The site Wallpaper focused on the aesthetics of the design and said, “This important cultural space combines sports and culture in a monumental, minimalist and information-rich display,” for visitors.

Working with the shell of an existing building, the design team focused on transforming the museum’s interior in an immersive, informative experience, full of drama and draws for the visitor, the report added.

It's a kind of minimalist design with lots of white and featuring sweeping shapes and tall ceilings, with what the site said were color accents and clever graphics to create a composition that feels clean, welcoming and engaging.

The displays are organized into two parts telling the story of the Olympic Games and about the Olympic movement and role of athletes and individual sports, focused on glory not controversy.

“Light was also a crucial element in the space – it appears everywhere, bright, like the sunlight in the Greek landscape, but its sources are hidden and subtle. The design team worked with lighting specialists Coolshadow on the concept,” the report said.

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