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Greek Museums Shut in Protest Against New Law

Greek museums strike
Archaeologists protest outside the Archaeological Museum in Athens. Credit: Facebook/ Association of Greek Archaeologists

Some of the most popular museums in Greece remained closed on Monday as Greek archaeologists protest against a draft law that would make them more autonomous.

Closed are the National Archaeological Museum of Athens, the Byzantine and Christian Museum, the Archaeological Museum and the Museum of Byzantine Culture of Thessaloniki, and the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion, Crete.

Archaeologists protest the change of the operating status of the museums into Legal Entities under Public Law.

Protesters held rallies outside several museums on Monday morning, while they have announced two more rolling strikes, on Tuesday 14, and Wednesday 15 February.

Changes brought on the operation of museums in Greece

The draft law of the Ministry of Culture and Sports, which is coming up for a vote in the Parliament, will transform the five public museums into Legal Entities under Public Law, like the Acropolis Museum.

The main changes concern the administrative status of the specific museums. They will no longer be managed exclusively by archaeologist managers – civil servants, as was the case until today, but by mixed boards of directors appointed by the Minister of Culture, without the requirement that they are archaeologists.

Specifically, three members of the Board will be personalities of recognized prestige in the field of arts, letters and sciences and two will come from the Ministry of Culture.

Personalities who have distinguished themselves for their successful professional and social activity will be appointed as president and vice-president.

The general director of the museums will address this seven-member board in order to obtain approval for any issue related to their operation.

Under the new regime, the five museums will manage the resources they collect from tickets, sales, and events which until now have been collected by the Organization for the Management and Development of Cultural Resources (ODAP), and through these are expected to be self-financing.

In addition, they will have the possibility not only to lend and borrow works, with a five-year duration and the possibility of renewal but also to establish branches in foreign countries in order to exhibit some of their collections in the long term.

Archaeologists protest changes in Greek museums

The Association of Greek Archaeologists says that the law “undermines the unified character of the Archaeological Service and leads to its dissolution”.

At the same time, it claims that “the public archaeological museums will turn into governmental entities as the minister will choose and appoint the Boards of Directors and the General Directors, without setting even the minimum conditions for appointing a member to the Board of Directors.”

It also sounds the alarm about the provision of the draft law that allows the export of antiquities abroad and especially the establishment of branches of museums outside the Greek borders.

Greek archaeologists also claim that the new law will lead to job cuts and an increase in ticket prices.

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