It was time for Greeks to work together and show their critics what they were really capable of, Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos stressed in an interview with the ANA-MPA on Friday. During this, he outlined the new policy that the ministry is seeking to implement in relation to staffing Greece's state museums and major archaeological sites.
Geroulanos said that staff transfers from state organisations like the Greek Railways (OSE) and the hiring of seasonal staff had already been set in motion with the aim of keeping important museums and sites open throughout the day during summer months.
Other projects underway were the design of new educational programmes and touch-feel areas in museums.
"With the transfers we succeeded in obtaining the staff needed to keep open some signature monuments, such as the Acropolis, open during the winter as well. We hope this programme will be extended to other monuments, such as the White Tower and Olympia. The staff that have come to us from OSE have already begun to be integrated into our ranks successfully and the most encouraging thing is that they see their new duties very positively," Geroulanos said.
The minister said that 53 archaeological sites and museums will operate on an extended time-table from 8:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. every day throughout the summer months, with new sites and museums added every day as extra seasonal staff were hired.
He clarified that the new staff were hired based on proclamations issued by the General Directorate of Antiquities and Cultural Heritage and then approved by the Supreme Council for Staff Selection (ASEP).
"We want a process that is based on merit and to put the right people in the proper positions. At the same time, via the transfers that are underway, we are providing permanent staff for important archaeological sites and museums, so that when this is justified, as in the case of the Acropolis, these can operate with an extended time-table in the winter," he said.
As part of the broader programme for upgrading museums, the ministry will issue new bilingual pamphlets providing basic information about each site and museum.
"These will be given to visitors free with the purchase of a ticket and will also be available in electronic form on the Internet (visitgreece.gr)," Geroulanos said, adding that there was also a plan to print the pamphlets in Braille for the sight-impaired.
In addition, work was underway to print or translate more detailed guides containing specialised information for some sites, at greatly reduced cost.
"This year we significantly reduced printing costs to about a fifth of last year by organising our work better. Indicatively, I can tell you that 5.5 million pamphlets cost us 115,000 euro when 1.2 million printed last year cost 154,000. It is worth noting, however, that the upgrade programme is not just about the production of these publications but includes a series of important interventions in the sites," Geroulanos said.
Among these he listed studies on the guard houses, toilets and bilingual signs in the archaeological sites that had the highest number of visitors, saying work will begin next month.
Asked about comments in the German newspaper "Bild" about Greece "selling the Acropolis", Geroulanos stressed that it would be best if people kept calm and did not allow such nonsense to affect them.
"This is reminiscent of the time before the Olympic Games. No one could have imagined by reading the journalists of the time that the smallest country to take them on would hold the best Olympic Games in history. But this is what happened. Because we all worked together, set common goals and believed in our strengths," Geroulanos noted.