Dimitrios Pantermalis served as Professor of Archaeology at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. He was elected as a Member of Greek Parliament in 1996.
He is best known as head of the excavations carried out by the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki at ancient Dion and as director of the Organization for the Construction of the New Acropolis Museum and thereafter as President of the Museum.
He was born in 1940 in Thessaloniki. He studied at the Department of History and Archaeology of the Aristotle University, and then at the Department of Philosophy, German Language and Literature Section. He continued his Graduate studies at the University of Freiburg in Germany and got his PhD in 1968. Since the early ’70s he has been responsible on behalf of AUTH of the excavations at ancient Dion, religious center of ancient Macedonians in the Macedonian Olympus (Pieria). Large parts of the ancient settlement and temples outside the city walls were excavated and Dion became well known as one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece, with many movable antiquities exhibited in the local museum. Notable exhibits are the sculptures that now adorn the Museum and a rare archaeological find the special hydraulis, an ancient musical instrument.
Now he is the President of the New Acropolis Museum, which is an archaeological museum that focuses on the findings of the archaeological site of the Acropolis of Athens. The Museum was built to house every object that has been found on the sacred rock of the Acropolis and its foothills encompassing a broad time period from the Mycenaean period to the Roman and early Christian Athens while it also lies on the archaeological site Makrygiannis and the ruins of a part of Roman and early Byzantine Athens.
The new building of the Museum was founded in 2003 and opened to the public in June 21, 2009. In June 20, 2009 there was the grand opening of the Museum in the presence of the President of the Greek Republic Karolos Papoulias, the President of the European Union and numerous of foreign leaders. The back then Minister of Culture Antonis Samaras, in a symbolic gesture, broadcasted around the world, placed a piece of marble that was returned from the Vatican Museum, in the front of the Parthenon. The move symbolized the Greek request for reunification of the marbles to the New Acropolis Museum.
About 4,000 objects are exposed in a space of 14,000 square meters. There are four different levels and the level of excavation below the building and the Museum was first visited at the end of 2011.
At the highest level of the Museum is the Parthenon gallery, which presents all the surviving sculptures of the monument in Athens. Transparent panes allow direct eye contact with the architectural monument which they come from and in the same time they simulate the initial conditions of lighting of the sculptures. This room gives a panoramic view of a large part of the city of Athens. The visitor initially ascends in the core of the room where teaching materials, signs and videos related to the Parthenon, its construction and history can be presented. The floor in this room is transparent and allows the viewing and lighting of the archaeological excavation of the ground floor.
In November 2010 the New Acropolis Museum was voted as the Best Museum in the World in a contest of the Journalists Association of Tourism Journalists of Great Britain. The international art survey “The Art Newspaper” classified the Acropolis museum in the 25th place among the 100 most visited Art Museums in the world in 2010, with 1,355,720 visitors.
– We thank the President of the Akropolis Museum Professor Demetrios Pantermalis for his kindness to answer the following questions:
Environment and Culture: For many people an interdependent relationship. What is your opinion?
D.P.: Certainly the Environment and Culture are interdependent given that Culture is essential for the management of the Environment.
What is the relationship of the Ancient Greeks to their environment?
D.P.: The ancient Greeks were closely tied up with the Environment and this relationship was direct. Judging by the places they have chosen for their Temples, they thought of the environment as a source of wealth and an aesthetic value as well.
Has the natural environment led to the creation of great civilizations or the intellectual culture led to the desired protection of the natural environment of the ancient people?
D.P.: The great civilizations have developed into favorable natural environments, for example in Mesopotamia and Egypt, where the water of the rivers was crucial to the creation of wealth, prosperity and eventually, culture.
Are the causes of the environmental crisis also cultural?
D.P.: Environmental crises were also happening in antiquity due to destruction of forests or underground disruption for searching of metals whenever extreme consumer needs were created. Accordingly, similar needs create the nowadays environmental crisis.
Do you think that the institutional framework requires some changes to be made and, if so, what kind of changes to have development with respect to the environment and our archaeological heritage?
D.P.: I believe that least changes are required in the institutional framework on the protection of Environment and Cultural Heritage while the effective implement of the institutional framework is much more necessary.
Has an important project as the New Museum of Acropolis been hampered by hindrances in the process of the environmental licensing?
D.P.: The Museum of Acropolis doesn’t burden the environment. On the contrary, after clearing the yard area from the modern buildings, an extensive planting of trees, shrubs and grass took place so that a pleasant environment around the building that houses our unique cultural treasures has been created.