Ancient Greek gods in color shock museum visitors

ATHENS, Feb 13 (Reuters Life!) - Deep red lips, bright yellow togas and flashy multicolored tights are hardly associated with the classical beauty of ancient Greek statues.

The sudden splash of color at an exhibition in Athens, depicting painted replicas of famed Greek statues, has caused a stir despite assurances from archaeologists that they are historically correct.

“We are used to thinking of these statues in white marble, so looking at all these strong colors, it is a bit shocking,” said Italian visitor Paula Lombardi.

“Gods in Color” at the National Archeaological Museum of Athens, displays 23 copies of famous ancient Greek marble statues and sculptures, reproduced in their true form - in strong colors of blue, red, green and yellow.

“Some (visitors) like it, because they did not know and it was a discovery. Some are disappointed,” said Museum Director and archaeologist Nikolaos Kaltsas. “Some have said to me personally, ‘you have completely ruined the image we had of antiquity’,” he said.

A painted reproduction of the statue of Paris the archer is displayed in a bright yellow tunic and tights with zig-zag designs in red and green.

The replica of the famed “Peplos Kore” statue from the Acropolis shows off her brown hair, bright red lips, and a glowing yellow robe sprinkled with animal designs in red and green.

The painted replicas, brought from Munich’s Glyptothek Museum where they were created, tell visitors that contrary to the popular visions of shining white marble statues, the architecture and sculpture of ancient Greek cities were covered in rich pigments.

“We have to get used to the fact this is what they were like. They may have been more bright, or less bright, but they were colored. We have to imagine the Acropolis as multicolored,” Kaltsas said.

Many of the painted replicas are displayed next to their originals. The exhibition, running until March 24, has not gone down well with some of the visitors.

“I was very disappointed seeing all these painted things...I don’t like them at all,” said Greek visitor Eliza Masselou.