Open letter from the employees of the National Archaeological Museum of Athens

To the Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic, Mr. Kyriakos Mitsotakis

Dear Prime Minister,

We, the undersigned employees of the National Archaeological Museum, were unexpectedly informed that, at a time when the museums remain closed due to the pandemic, the Minister of Culture and Sports has presented and intends to introduce to Parliament a bill by which the five largest public museums in Greece:

the National Archaeological Museum
the Byzantine and Christian Museum
the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki
the Museum of Byzantine Culture
the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion

will cease to be Special Regional Services of the Ministry of Culture and Sports and will be converted into Legal Entities governed by Public Law.

Mr. Prime Minister, we hereby wish to state that at no stage in the drafting of this unknown bill were the employees of the National Archaeological Museum called upon to express their views on the improvement of its operation or its administrative structure.

The establishment of the National Archaeological Museum was one of the first concerns of the newly born Greek state. The Museum was originally founded in Aegina in 1829 and, a few years later, according to the first Archaeological Law of 1834, it officially became the “Central Public Museum”, constituting one of the oldest public services of the Greek state, with a clear purpose to protect, preserve and promote ancient Greek cultural heritage. Its creation contributed to the formation of the ideological identity of the Modern Greek state and its operation marked a brilliant course in its long, turbulent history.

Mr. Prime Minister, the National Archaeological Museum has so far functioned with the transparency and regulations that govern all state services and already implements what is advocated in the bill to be submitted, defending the protection of antiquities, maintaining the integrity of its archaeological collections, organizing or participating in numerous exhibitions in Greece and all over the world, advancing scientific research, carrying out co-financed projects and promoting Hellenic culture with events, successful extrovert activities, scientific lectures on its exhibits for the general public and educational programs that are free of charge for all  citizens.

You yourself have honored us with your presence in the inauguration of successful exhibitions, planned after systematic scientific research and produced thanks to the hard work of all professional specialties of the Museum. Moreover, our Museum has accepted and profited in the best possible way from sponsorships by Institutes and companies (COSMOTE, HUBLOT, ELPE, NBG, the Athens Medical Group, the Latsis Foundation, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the Onassis Foundation, the AG Leventis Foundation, the J. Paul Getty Museum, to cite but a few).

On the other hand, Mr. Prime Minister, the operation in practice of the Legal Entities governed by Public Law in Greece includes both successful examples and dismal failures, such as the Archaeological Receipts Fund (TAP). Therefore, the choice of such an institutional change for the National Archaeological Museum is not automatically in its interest, especially when the model of state management has so far worked successfully in its case. We firmly believe that if sufficient human resources (with specialized technical, administrative and marketing staff) are ensured, the National Archaeological Museum can successfully meet the needs of society and the challenges of the 21st century.

In the many years of its history, the employees (archaeologists, conservators, engineers, chemists, administrators, accountants, security guards, cleaners, workmen) of the National Archaeological Museum have served and preserved the antiquities from numerous adventures, even at the risk of their lives, in particularly harsh times, such as during the Nazi occupation.

With this letter, we, the employees of the National Museum, wish to send the message in all directions that we will once again gather all our forces and stand for the protection and safety of the ancient monuments and the integrity of the archeological collections, within the Archaeological Service, of which the Museum must continue to be an organic part. It goes without saying that our effort lies beyond any narrow political or ideological views, since the National Archaeological Museum is the Museum of us all.

Avronidaki Christina, archaeologist
Athanasopoulos Panayotis, conservator of antiquities
Athanasopoulou Sappho, archaeologist
Antonopoulou Spyridoula, guard of antiquities
Avgoustakis Georgios, guard of antiquities
Bizremis Konstantinos, administrative employee
Boussiou Olga, guard of antiquities
Chatzipanagiotou Alexandra, archaeologist
Chidiroglou Maria, archaeologist
Dalla Giannoula, conservator of antiquities
Drakomathioulaki Kyriakoula, engineer
Drandaki Ioanna, administrative employee
Drouga Vassiliki, architect-engineer
Exarchos Markos, guard of antiquities
Feleris Pantelis, conservator of antiquities
Fragkioudaki Panagiota, guard of antiquities
Gaitanaki Dimitra, guard of antiquities
Galanopoulos Konstantinos, guard of antiquities
Iglessi Vassiliki, administrative employee
Ignatiadou Despina, archaeologist
Kavvadias Georgios, archaeologist
Kamzolas Ioannis, guard of antiquities
Karamargiou Georgia, conservator of antiquities
Karathanasis Georgios, guard of antiquities
Karapanagioti Theodora, guard of antiquities
Katsifaraki Anastasia, guard of antiquities
Katsourani Kalliopi, guard of antiquities
Kladouri, Nicoletta Kanella, conservator of antiquities
Klonizaki Ariadni, archaeologist
Konstantinidi Eleni, archaeologist
Kontaki Maria, conservator of antiquities
Kontou Aikaterini, guard of antiquities
Kostanti Aikaterini, archaeologist
Kotsiouros Nikolaos, technical staff member
Kountani Konstantina, guard of antiquities
Kourouvani Eirini, guard of antiquities
Koutsiana Panagiota, archaeologist
Lazaris Panagiotis, conservator of antiquities
Leka Evridiki, archaeologist
Makripidi Vassiliki, guard of antiquities
Makrypidis Spyridon, guard of antiquities
Makris Gerasimos, conservator of antiquities
Manoussaki Georgia, guard of antiquities
Manteli Aikaterini, archaeologist
Marsinopoulou Despoina, conservator of antiquities
Mitrou Evgenia, archaeologist
Mazi Alexandra, guard of antiquities
Moraitou Georgianna, conservator of antiquities
Nikola Raimonta, guard of antiquities
Nikolentzos Konstantinos, archaeologist
Oikonomou Efterpi, archaeologist
Palaiokrassa Nomiki, archaeologist
Papaefthymiou Evanthia, archaeologist
Papaioannou Lamprini, guard of antiquities
Paschalidis Konstantinos, archaeologist
Pliatsika Vassiliki, archaeologist
Polka Sophia, guard of antiquities
Rapti Konstantina, guard of antiquities
Roumelioti Nectaria, artist – painter
Selekou Maria, archaeologist
Sinopoulou Aikaterini, archaeologist
Solinareou Zoe, guard of antiquities
Sotirelli Anna, guard of antiquities
Sotiropoulos Panayotis, guard of antiquities
Spachi Agapi, guard of antiquities
Spyrou Kalliopi, guard of antiquities
Stasinou Antigoni, guard of antiquities
Stefa Anna, administrative employee
Tatari Maria, guard of antiquities
Terzoudi Maria, archaeologist
Tolia – Christakou Maria, archaeologist
Tourna Eleni, archaeologist
Tsiflikiotis Dimitrios, guard of antiquities
Tsimbogianni Spyridoula, guard of antiquities
Tsouli Chrysanthi, archaeologist
Tzanetakis Pavlos, guard of antiquities
Vaggelis Anastasios, technical staff member
Vivliothetis Evangelos, archaeologist
Voudouri Myrsini, guard of antiquities
Voutsa Aikaterini, archaeologist
Xylina Aikaterini, conservator of antiquities
Zafiropoulou Dimitra, administrative employee
Zania Theodora, technical staff member

Fotografia da Wikimedia Commons, © Thomas Wolf, (CC BY-SA 3.0 DE)