An Archaeology of Disability

Exhibition – Installation, 28 June – 30 Οctober 2023
David Giseen, Jennifer Stager, Mantha Zarmakoupi

EXTENSION: the exhibition will be extended until November 30, 2023.

The Canellopoulos Museum hosts the installation AN ARCHAEOLOGY OF DISABILITY, which was first exhibited at the Venice Biennale of Architecture in 2021.

Designed by a historian of architecture (David Gissen), a historian of classical art (Jennifer Stager) and a classical archaeologist and historian of architecture (Mantha Zarmakoupi), the Archaeology of Disability attempts to approach the ancient past without the barrier of ableism, which is set by modern ideas about disability. The installation invites us to imagine the climb to the hill of Acropolis as a collective experience, in which the members of the community walked together irrespective of their physical condition, often helping one another. The installation employs media which are friendly to people with disabilities (haptic reconstructions, narrations in Greek and American sign language, audio narrations in Greek and English) and offers a multisensorial interpretation of the Acropolis entrance (the so-called Propylaia). The visitor is invited to contrast this approach with current strategies of “accessible heritage”, whereby accommodations are added to a site to render it more accessible to those with specific disabilities, while not necessarily designing these inclusively (e.g. they often lead to special routes and tours).

The three curators suggest to use the example of antiquity in order to understand disability as part of human difference and diversity – not as a condition beyond an arbitrary “normality”, which may justify social exclusions and isolation.

The exhibition takes place at a period of intense discussions about disability in the museum sector—in Europe, the USA, and elsewhere—which aim at the development of more inclusive policies. The exhibition will be open from 28 June to 30 October 2023. It will be accompanied by weekly guided tours in Greek and in Greek sign language, and a theater workshop for kids.

Admission to the exhibition is made with the museum ticket (standard 3€, reduced 2€, kids and people with disabilities free, see

Admission to the guided tours and the theater workshops for kids is free with pre-registration here and here.

The exhibition is organized with the generous support of the Evangelos Pistiolis Foundation, the Williams Fund Publication of the University of Pennsylvania and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Agora Institute of the Johns Hopkins University.

For more information, you can visit the official website of the exhibition:



Davis Gissen is a New York-based author, designer, and educator who works in the fields of architecture, landscape, and urban design. He is currently Professor of Architecture and Urban History at the Parsons School of Design/New School University. He is the author of the book THE ARCHITECTURE OF DISABILITY, which was published in 2022 (

Jennifer Stager is a writer and art historian focusing on the art and architecture of the ancient Mediterranean and its afterlives. She is currently Assistant Professor of Art History at Johns Hopkins University (

Mantha Zarmakoupi
is a classical archaeologist and historian of architecture. She is currently the Morris Russell and Josephine Chidsey Williams Assistant Professor in Roman Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania (



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