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Greece to Build Museum at Plato’s Academy in Athens

Museum Plato Academy Athens
Model of the Museum at Plato’s Academy in Athens. Credit: Ministry of Culture

Authorities in Greece announced on Tuesday the creation of the country’s first green museum which will be created in Athens where Plato’s Academy stood in ancient times.

According to an announcement by the Ministry of Culture and the City of Athens, the winning design retains some of the open-plan ideas of the academy, incorporating greenery and public spaces.

Additionally, the museum will house unique artifacts excavated during work in the city in the past decades and materials found in the development of the city’s Metro. According to an official statement, around 300,000 pieces are currently not on display.

City officials explain that the project aims to reflect the spirit of the location – Plato’s Academy. Consequently, the architectural design for the museum is open-plan and has long-term sustainability in mind.

Museum Plato Academy Athens
The Museum will feature an open amphitheater with 500 seats. Credit: Ministry of Culture

Plato’s Academy museum will be climate neutral

The new museum building will have four wings enclosing a central square. Furthermore, the design will feature an open amphitheater with 500 seats, attached to the buildings. All the built sections, in turn, are designed to blend with local green areas, so that having a picnic and going to the museum can be part of the same journey.

According to Athens’ Mayor Kostas Bakoyiannis, the city does not need another fortress museum, but instead one which is welcoming to the public, and also climate neutral with no carbon footprint. The museum will also be an international hub for the development of scientific and artistic activities, highlighting the timeless metropolitan role of Athens, from antiquity to the present day.

Bakoyiannis was quoted in a press statement, saying: “This is a day we have been working on for a long time. We feel a certain optimism because today something new is born, something hopeful. In the archaeological site of Plato’s Academy, the past and the future will coexist.”

Museum Plato Academy Athens
The Museum will be climate neutral with no carbon footprint. Credit: Ministry of Culture

Although the design of George Tsolakis won the public tender, there is still a long way to go before Athens can enjoy its new addition, with funding and development permits in the works. Thus, authorities have yet to announce a budget or schedule for construction.

Plato’s Academy

Plato’s Academy, or simply, ”The Academy,” was a famous school in ancient Athens founded by Plato in 387 BC, located on the northwestern outskirts of Athens, outside the city walls. The site acquired its name from the legendary hero Academos.

Plato is the one person who must receive the credit for giving birth to this unique institution. He first acquired the land on which the Academy was eventually built, and began holding informal gatherings there to discuss philosophical issues with some of his friends.

The gatherings included thinkers such as Theaetetus of Sunium, Archytas of Tarentum, Leodamas of Thasos, and Neoclides. These meetings and discussions continued for years, but it was not until Eudoxus of Cnidos arrived in the mid-380s BC that Akademeia was recognized as a formal Academy.

Plato’s Academy was not an educational institution as we know it in modern times, but because it had the characteristics of a school and covered a wide variety of topics such as philosophy, astronomy, mathematics, politics, physics and more, it is considered to be the first university in the entire world.

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