ACROPOLIS MUSEUM FINALLY OPENS

When Greece's long-awaited Acropolis Museum finally opens its doors next month, foreign presidents, international dignitaries and officials from the British Museum will be invited to celebrate.

But one group has been banned from party: the descendants of Lord Thomas Elgin - the man Greece blames for removing friezes from the ancient Parthenon temple and then selling them to the British Museum in London, where they are currently on display.

Located at the foot of the ancient Acropolis in Athens, the new 20,000-square-metre museum was planned as the new home for the 160 metre-long strip of marble that adorned the Parthenon until 1801.

"The opening of the Acropolis Museum is a major world event and on June 20th it will be a day of celebration for all civilised people, not just for Greeks alone," Greek Culture Minister Antonis Samaras said.

Greece will mark the opening of the new museum, nearly three decades after the building was first proposed, with a week-long party.

The new 120 million euro ($A205.5 million) museum is the Greek government's key argument for the return of the Parthenon, or Elgin, marbles from Britain.

Lord Elgin, the British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, removed the friezes from the temple when Athens was under Ottoman occupation some 200 years ago.

They were then sold to the British Museum which has since refused to relinquish the sculptures that include depictions of religious and mythological scenes, insisting the transaction was legal.

London has long argued that Athens lacks a proper display space to ensure the safety and preservation for these priceless antiquities.

The Greek government, it appears, is set to prove them wrong.

Designed by New York architect Bernard Tschumi to offer visitors direct visual contact with the Parthenon temple itself, the entire top-floor gallery of the new museum offers a simultaneous view of the frieze and the ancient site.

The top-floor gallery fits the exact dimensions of the Parthenon temple and its 115 panels. Greece only possesses 36 of them, but will display replicas of the rest.

Constructing such a vast museum in one of the world's most ancient cities was not an easy task.

Almost as soon as workers began digging at the site, a settlement from the 5th century was uncovered, forcing contractors to call in archaeologists.

Rather than re-locate the museum, the architectural team decided to build the modern steel and glass structure on concrete stilts above the archaeological diggings.

The government is hoping to attract 2,500 visitors during the first three days after the opening.