ATHENS, GREECE, TO CELEBRATE OPENING OF NEW ACROPOLIS MUSEUM

It's official. The New Acropolis Museum in Athens, Greece, is scheduled to open on June 20 after an eight-year campaign to get it designed and built.

"The opening is a big thing for us," Greece's consul in Atlanta, Vassilios Gouloussis, told GlobalAtlanta. "We have fulfilled our promise to give to the world a state of the art museum."

The opening also is Greece's answer to the British argument that its capital has no appropriate location to house the Elgin Marbles, the sculptures taken from the Parthenon frieze to the British Museum in London.

Mr. Gouloussis evoked the memory of Melina Mercouri, the Greek actress, singer and political activist, who launched in the early 1980s a campaign for the return of the Elgin Marbles. But the British Museum has given no indication that it will do so.

"Their main argument was that Athens didn't have an appropriate museum or a place worth having them, but now we can counter that," he added.

The marbles from the Parthenon's east and west friezes that Greece retained have been mounted for display. In a not very subtle statement about the missing ones, modern replicas fill in the gaps.

Mr. Gouloussis said that the opening ceremonies would be a high profile event with dignitaries from throughout Europe and the rest of the world attending.

Its birth has been a difficult labor delayed by numerous challenges including an earthquake prone site some 300 yards south of the Acropolis hill.

During a 2008 video interview, Dimitrios Pandermalis, the museum's president, described the entire project as a multicultural enterprise with glass crews coming in from Germany and the United Kingdom and concrete workers form Albania, India, Russia and Greece itself.

Dr. Pandermalis estimated that once the museum is finally opened it will attract annually 3 million visitors, who will acquire "a realistic idea" of what classicism is all about.

For Mr. Gouloussis, the opening is one of several events that provide an antidote to the current economic crisis. Athens also is to have a new opera house and a new library, which will provide additional occasions for celebration.