Recently, I took a spontaneous day trip to Patras and came across the city’s new archaeological museum. The Archaeological Museum of Patras is housed in a sleek, marvelous, contemporary building specifically designed to accommodate large crowds of museum visitors without compromising its collections.
The museum is comprised of three large halls for the divided themes of the permanent exhibition- Private Life, Public Life and the Cemeteries. The exhibition covers the history of Patras as well as southern and western areas of Achaea from the period of 3000 B.C. to 4th c. A.D. Artifacts belonging to the Mycenaean and Roman periods are the most distinguished in the collection.
The Private Life hall houses artifacts pertaining to everyday life such as work tools, household decorations and toiletries. Highlights of the Private Life hall include the reconstructions of a private bath, a rural and an urban house, and the large mosaic floors.
The Public Life hall focuses on administrative and social organization, commercial activities, cults, Patras’ topography, and entertainment.
The Cemeteries hall displays the finds in a manner that emphasizes the wealth and assortment of grave offerings, mortuary procedures as well as funerary architecture. Grave offerings were displayed in a mock in situ way to show how they were laid amongst the bodies. The dead were also displayed in this same manner giving a sense that we as the visitors are in fact opening the crypts for the first time
Overall the permanent exhibition was expertly laid out; each hall guided the visitor through the exhibition chronologically and typologically. There are numerous large panels with plenty of interesting information regarding the artifacts made easy to understand for non-experts. Extensive information is provided in both Greek and in English. The museum is equipped with a small but friendly staff. The museum closes at 3pm, so plan according to allow plenty of time to enjoy all of the ancient artifacts. Patras tends to be overlooked by people passing to and from the ferry station, but the archaeological museum is a hidden gem and well worth the visit.
Sabrina Nieblas is currently a student of the innovative MA in Heritage Management 2013. During her undergraduate career, she studied museum practices and public relations. Sabrina seeks to utilize her skill set in the expanding field of sustainable tourism, specifically in the region of Mesoamerica.