Greece’s biggest depository of antiquities to offer digital tours, podcasts, mobile apps
Digital transformation, one of the most overused terms of the last few years, acquires special interest when it refers to cultural institutions. Even more so when the institution in question is the National Archaeological Museum (NAM), Greece’s largest, which for decades had been lagging behind in terms of its digital profile.
The Culture Ministry aspires to change this reality with a comprehensive program “to modernise and highlight the NAM” using 1.5 million euros in EU funding, which was presented on December 19.
Changes include a new secondary website, ds.namuseum.gr, where one will be able to book any museum activity and plan a visit. The museum will offer 32 new thematic guided tours which will be available in rotation (nine available at a time). Visitors will also be able to do a virtual tour and select specific exhibits in a personal folder as memories of the visit.
‘Our museums serve as managers and curators of cultural heritage. Museum policies must change to serve social needs, and not to ultimately become museums themselves,’ says Culture Minister Lina Mendoni
“Our museums serve as managers and curators of cultural heritage. Museum policies must change to serve social needs, and not to ultimately become museums themselves,” said Culture Minister Lina Mendoni. “With this specific project, NAM harmonizes its operation with the requirements of the era and the new generation. Also, foreign visitors, who will enjoy this renewed experience, will serve as the best ambassadors of our culture around the world.” Meanwhile, two information stations inform about available themed tours, current and future activities, and allow visitors to send a digital postcard to a friend with one of the museum”s exhibits. In the center of the main hall there is a new circular kiosk, created with the sponsorship of Aegean Airlines, which offers audio tour devices, free of charge, to explain the museum’s permanent collections.
Next to the display case with gold masks of the Mycenaean tombs, there is now a series of three-digit codes which can be typed into the audio tour device to hear the relevant excerpt. “Stories about love and infidelity, war and peace, the first computers and tablets,” explains Anna-Vasiliki Karapanagiotou, general director of the museum.
These special podcasts, while still experiencing some technical problems which are expected to be overcome, are available in six languages and cover a total of 883 exhibits, while separate texts have been compiled for guided tours in sign language and for the visually impaired.
An additional service, which will be activated soon, is a mobile application for the museum’s most iconic exhibits, while nine digital information islands have been placed in as many rooms, enriching the thematic tours with videos, as they are automatically coordinated with the visitors’ devices.
Regarding the planned expansion of the museum, Mendoni said that the agreement for the required studies will be ratified in Parliament within the first two months of 2024. The date of the ratification will affect the timeline for the completion of the project and the sections of the museum that will be closed.
As for the halls that remain closed due to lack of staff, the minister said that the new board of directors is going to submit a request to the Supreme Council for Civil Personnel Selection (ASEP) in 2024 to fill the positions.