The Athens Olympic Museum opens its doors

The new Athens Olympic Museum in Greece is about to open – courtesy of KLab and Mulo Creative Lab – combining culture and sports in a minimalist, yet rich spatial experience

The new Olympic Museum in Athens opens this month
Gallery displays span the story of the Olympics
(Image credit: Mariana Bisti)

Telling the story of the Olympic Games, past and present, a new Olympic Museum is about to open its doors in the beloved sporting event's birth country, Greece. Set in the heart of Athens and designed by local architecture practice KLab and Mulo Creative Lab, this important cultural space combines sports and culture in a monumental, minimalist and information-rich display. 

Working with the shell of an existing building, the design team focused on transforming the museum's interior in an immersive, informative experience, full of drama and draws for the visitor. At 9m high and some 3500 sq m, there was substantial space to play with. Working with a clean, pared down backdrop featuring sweeping shapes and tall ceilings, the designers employed colour accents and clever graphics to create a composition that feels clean, welcoming and engaging. 

the new Olympic Museum in Athens bridges old and new

Timeline of all the Olympic Games

(Image credit: Mariana Bisti)

The displays are organised into two parts. One tells the story of the Olympic Games, from their very foundation in ancient Greece to today’s international sporting get-together every four years. The second addresses themes around the Games’ evergreen values, the Olympic movement (also celebrated in museums in other parts of the world, such as the recent DS+R work in Colorado) and the role of athletes and individual sports. 

The architects and designers developed the architecture and exhibition design in parallel, so the whole feels coherent. Objects and spatial elements are in sync, complementing each other, but without the interior detracting from the information-rich content. Powerful geometries draw the eye but their abstraction allows different readings so that the architecture doesn’t become distracting. Light was also a crucial element in the space – it appears everywhere, bright, like the sunlight in the Greek landscape, but its sources are hidden and subtle. The design team worked with lighting specialists Coolshadow on the concept. 

‘We had infinite sources of inspiration for the overall composition,’ says KLab’s director Konstantinos Labrinopoulos, ‘as we had many objects to work with, supported by other museums and cultural bodies. Our design, to an extent, highlights the sense of sporting competition, through the depictions of athletes in motion, which in turn is a narration of the idea of evolution of sports through time.’

the new Olympic Museum in Athens goes through the history of the games

Entrance to the special hall dedicated to ancient Olympia

(Image credit: Mariana Bisti)

the new Olympic Museum in Athens is full of informative galleries

Entrance lobby area to the museum.

(Image credit: Mariana Bisti)

the new Olympic Museum in Athens combines minimalist with colour and information as seen here

Gallery with displays celebrating the 2004 Athens Olympic Games

(Image credit: Mariana Bisti)

the new Olympic Museum in Athens mixes vertical and arch elements in the interior design

Entering the exhibition areas dedicated to athletes and individual sports

(Image credit: Mariana Bisti)

the new Olympic Museum in Athens and its rich displays show historical and modern pieces

Gallery depicting Greek myths that helped lead to the creation of the Games

(Image credit: Mariana Bisti)


Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).