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Obama given night-time tour of Acropolis and its museum

Barack Obama, his wife Michelle and their daughters Malia and Sasha were given a private, nighttime tour of the Acropolis and its museum on Wednesday night, as the former US president visits Greece for an event of the Obama Foundation Leaders program.

The guided tour of the Acropolis Museum was conducted by its general director, Nikolaos Stampolidis, who told Kathimerini that Obama showed a keen and informed interest in the ideals and philosophy behind the ancient citadel.

He also reportedly remarked on the absence of the sixth Korai – known as Karyatids – which supported the south porch of the Erechtheion and is currently in the British Museum.

“I responded that we want the Parthenon Sculptures back, not to denude the world’s museums of their collections,” noted Stampolidis.

Inquiring about the original coloring of the Parthenon Sculptures, Obama reportedly asked why the ancient craftsmen reached for such high standards of perfection. The answer, according to Stampolidis, was that the intention was to raise democracy in the eyes of the people.

The museum visit was followed by a private tour of the Acropolis, which was conducted by Michaelis Lefantzis, head of the Department of Archaeological Works and Studies at the Ephorate of Antiquities of Athens.

Earlier on Wednesday, the former US president spoke with over 100 changemakers from different parts of the world during a meeting of the Obama Foundation Leaders initiative in a downtown Athens hotel, while on Thursday afternoon he is due to speak at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre as part of its Nostos Conference.

He will join SNF Co-President Andreas Drakopoulos for a conversation focused on how to strengthen democratic culture and the importance of investing in the next generation of leaders.