Melina Mercouri was the woman who left her seal on the Hellenic Ministry of Culture during the 80's.
Melina Mercouri, a world-famous actress, brave fighter of the resistance movement against the military regime (1967-1974), politician of an enormous radiance in Greece and abroad, Minister of Culture for eight and a half years (1981-1989 and October 1993-March 6, 1994). Still, above all she was a great Greek, a woman that was cherished and passionately loved by the Greek people.
By using her own splendor and glamour, Melina Mercouri managed to make Culture part of the everyday lives of the Greek people, a front page story in the newspapers and big news in radio and television. During her years of office at the Ministry she raised the issue for the return of the Parthenon's marbles kept in the British Museum in London, to their rightful place, the Acropolis Museum. The Parthenon's marbles are the masterpieces that were stolen back in the beginning of 19th century by Lord Elgin, then the British ambassador to Constantinople (Istanbul), who mutilated the most resplendent monument of antiquity. Aware of the fact that the existing Acropolis Museum had not enough space to exhibit the marbles, Melina Mercouri started procedures for the construction of a new Museum that would operate keeping its most beautiful, most splendid room empty, awaiting for the marbles' return to Greece, the land that gave birth to them. Moreover, it was she who visioned the creation of a substantial cultural institution, the "Cultural Capital of Europe". The institution which was inaugurated ten years ago from Athens, is -up to now- the first and only event that culturally unites European countries. Melina Mercouri was the one who had said "Culture is Greece's heavy industry" and managed to make everyone amply aware of this. The Melina Mercouri Foundation, which was founded by her husband Jules Dassin after her death, keeps Melina Mercouri's visions alive.