Ahead of the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, Athens reveals a brand-new museum dedicated to the games. Here are all the details. By Presha Mahajan
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The Olympic Games need no introduction. Held every four years, the esteemed sporting event attracts millions of viewers. In honour of the games that began in Greece—paired with an ancient history dating back to roughly 3,000 years—the country set up a museum in Athens celebrating its achievements. After multiple COVID-19-induced hindrances, the Olympics Museum finally opened its doors to the public in May, with about 30 countries as a part of the museum network.
Established in Athens’ Maroussi district, the museum is in close proximity to the Olympic Park Complex where multiple events were played out during the 2004 Olympics. Notably, the district was once the hometown of 1896 Olympic marathon champion, Spiridon Louis.
The magnificent museum, spread over 3,500 square metres, showcases the intangible tales of the games throughout the years. The Olympic Museum displays the origins and history of the games, with an exhibition hall solely devoted to ancient Olympia; and talks about the importance and value of the games, athletics and sports. One of its highlights are rooms proudly dedicated to the two games hosted by the country: the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, and the second 2004 Athens Olympic Games.
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The place also features a rare, new and carefully curated selection of memorabilia, including Olympic medals, flags, sports equipment and posters—each of which shed light on the ancient games’ opening ceremonies. It also exhibits almost all flame relay torches, beginning with the Berlin torch from 1936. Many of these personal items and souvenirs have been donated by the country’s iconic Olympic and Paralympic sportspersons—Sofia Bekatorou, a former sailing champion, being one of them. Bekatorou has offered one of her sails. Interestingly, the double Olympic medalist has helped kick-start the #MeToo movement in Greece.
The museum has been designed by KLab and Mulo Creative Lab, two local architecture firms. It is minimalistic yet engaging and offers a seamless blend of the ancient and modern world. It welcomes visitors with a clean, simple colour palette and distinctive graphics. The cultural space houses informative displays and interactive audiovisual guides, video screens, and a gift shop with mascots and antiquities. “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,” said KLab’s director Konstantinos Labrinopoulos, as reported by Tatler.
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