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Diving discoveries museum inches forward

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Looking the part: the Silo museum (Piraeus Port Authority)

Plans for a new state museum displaying underwater discoveries made in Greek seas have been approved by the country’s Council of Museums. The Museum of Underwater Antiquities, first proposed by the Ministry of Culture & Sport seven years ago, is to be located in Athens’ port of Piraeus.

The council has approved preliminary architectural and structural plans for transforming a 1930s waterfront silo once used for storing grain into a 13,000sq m museum space dedicated to displaying Greece’s archaeological heritage. 

The scheme is part of the “Piraeus Cultural Coast Project”, designed to boost cultural tourism revenue.

“The main purpose of the creation of the Museum of Underwater Antiquities is to highlight the relationship between Greek culture and the sea through the numerous and already well-preserved underwater finds, many of which have remained in the warehouses of the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities for years,” stated Minister of Culture Lina Mendoni. 

“There are few museums around the world exclusively dedicated to exhibiting underwater antiquities.”

Green light

Not unusually in Greece, the scheme has already been a long time in the planning. The ministry submitted the silo proposal back in 2015 but it took the Port Planning & Development Committee until July 2019 to give its approval, pending the Council of Museums’ green light. 

Artefacts will include those brought to the surface by state and university-led archaeological divers, as well as those unauthorised finds seized by the authorities and authorised donated finds.

Visitors can expect to see many amphoras and sculptures; weapons, tools, utensils and timber hull remnants along with digital reconstructions of shipwrecks and their cargoes and submerged constructions. Educational outreach programmes for the academic community and the public are set to feature.

Included in the plans are galleries for permanent and temporary exhibitions, an amphitheatre, library, multimedia rooms, conservation laboratory and a restaurant.

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