The Athens Olympic Museum opens its doors

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 

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

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.’ §

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