Renowned archaeology professor and Acropolis Museum President Dimitris Pandermalis died at 82 on Wednesday, the Greek Ministry of Culture announced.
“It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to a rare scientist, inspiring teacher, valuable colleague and good friend,” Minister of Culture Lina Mendoni said in a statement shared via Facebook.
“His great work, his life’s vision, was the Acropolis Museum, which he served from the first moment, with all his strength. He was the soul of the museum, when it was still only on paper…” Mendoni said. “We owe it to him that Greece has one of the greatest and most beloved museums in the world, a model museum of cultural management, which honors our culture and our country.”
Prior to his stint heading the Acropolis Museum, Pandermalis had decades-long, fruitful careers in archaeology and education.
During excavations at the site of Dion he became a pioneer by developing an innovative archaeological and natural park.
At the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, where he served as president of the department of history and archaeology and dean of the faculty of philosophy, Pandermalis presented new, modern ideas to drive the institution forward.
Pandermalis led the Acropolis Museum since its opening in 2009 and, over the years, welcomed countless dignitaries and other noted visitors from the United States and the world. In November 2016, during Barack Obama’s final foreign trip, the professor gave the president a personal tour of the museum.
On Thursday, the U.S. Embassy in Athens paid tribute to Pandermalis in a Facebook post.
“The United States Embassy joins Greece in mourning the passing of Professor Dimitris Pandermalis, a celebrated archaeologist, the heart of the Acropolis Museum, a graceful host to countless American visitors and dignitaries, and a public figure who will be remembered for his contributions not just to Greek civilization but to global cultural heritage,” The embassy wrote in a statement.
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