31 July 2012 - 31 August 2024

Archaic Colours

The Acropolis Museum invites visitors to explore the Archaic Acropolis Gallery and discover the unique collection of Archaic statues that still retain – some a little, others a lot – their original colours.  

The exhibition program “Archaic Colours” was launched in July 2012, kicking off a broad discussion among technical specialists and the general public concerning paints, their scanning with new technologies, their experimental use on marble surfaces, their digital restoration and the original significance and aesthetic perception of colour in the Archaic era.

To date, scientific research concerning paint on ancient sculptures has made great progress and led to stunning conclusions that have largely dispelled long-held stereotypical assumptions about ancient sculpture. Paint on sculpture turns out to be not an element of simple decoration, but something that adds aesthetic quality to the artwork. Colours for the ancient Greeks and their society were a means of characterization. The gods had blonde hair that radiated their power; warriors and athletes, gray skin indicative of virtue and bravery; while daughters were given white skin that proclaimed the grace and glow of youth. 

The Museum’s program on Archaic Colours is based on meticulous observation of the ancient sculptures, with new information gained through spectroscopic analysis, special photography, experimental efforts to reproduce ancient colours and to apply them to Parian marble, as well as the invaluable testimony of historical sources and modern scholarship on the subject of paint.

The clear, intense colours highlighting the Kore statues’ luminous garments and delicate-skinned bodies, combined with rich jewelry often made of bronze, and the elaborate curls of their ornate-styled hair, produced a distinctive aesthetic effect that rendered these works of art for people of the Archaic era a "marvel to behold". 

Scientific catalogue 

The Acropolis Museum’s scientific catalog of Archaic paints and colours is available in the Museum Shops. Additional information is available in the Museum publications.

Family games for Archaic Colours

As part of the "Archaic Colours" program, the Museum invites families and children to discover Archaic colours through three games: the search-for-details game, the paint-box game and the DOMINO game. Read more information here.

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