The Athens Academy
The main building of the Athens Academy is a neoclassical building between Panepistimiou and Academias streets in the center of Athens. It was designed as part of a "trilogy" of architecture by the Danish architect Theophil Hansen, the younger among the Hansen brothers, along with the University of Athens and the old building of the National Library.
Funds were provided by the Greek magnate, and rich banker of Vienna, Baron Simon Sinas specifically for that purpose, and the foundation stone was laid on August 2, 1859. Construction proceeded rapidly, after 1861 under the supervision of Ernst Ziller, but the internal tumults during the latter years of King Othon's reign, which resulted in his ousting in 1862, hampered construction until it was stopped in 1864. Works resumed in 1868, but the building was not completed until 1885.
The construction follows the ancient ionic order of architecture, with porticos and pediments decorated with statues and gildings in polychromy. At the front side of the building the visitors are welcomed by the seated statues of Plato and Socrates. The Greek neoclassical sculptor Leonidas Drosis sculpted the principle multi-figure pediment sculpture, on the theme of the birth of Athena, based on a design by painter Carl Rahl. This brought first prize at the Vienna Exhibition of 1873.
Drosis is also responsible for the figures of Athena and Apollo with lyre on the Academy's flanking pillars, and the seated marble figures of Plato and Socrates, which were executed by the Italian sculptor Piccarelli. The eight smaller pediments in the Academy complex are the terracotta work of Austrian sculptor Franz Melnitzky. Interior murals and paintings developing the Myth of Prometheus were created by the Austrian artist Christian Griepenkerl.
The Academy is thought to be a prime example of Greek architectural style. On 20 March 1887, the building of the "Sinaean Academy", as it was called, was delivered by Ziller to the Greek Prime Minister, Harilaos Trikoupis. In the absence of a national Academy, the building was used for housing the Numismatic Museum in 1890, and in 1914 the Byzantine Museum and the State Archives. Finally, on 24 March 1926, the building was handed over to the newly established Academy of Athens.
The Academy of Athens is composed of three Sections: the Sciences, Humanities and Fine Arts, and Ethical and Political Sciences. The main purpose of the Academy is the cultivation and advancement of the Sciences, Humanities and Fine Arts, the conduct of scientific research and study, and the offer of learned advice to the state in these areas. In the pursuit of these objectives, the Academy supports scientific research, participates in international scientific organisations, carries out publications, grants scholarships, and confers awards and honorary distinctions. Currently there are 13 Research Centers and 10 Research Offices in operation, all with specialized libraries, as well as a central Library named the "Ioannis Sykoutris Library". Since 2002 the Academy has also supervised the Foundation of Medical and Biological Research.
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