Bad news for the culture buffs amongst you tourists visiting Crete this season: the Archaeological Museum in Iráklio, Xanthoudidou Street, will remain closed until at least 2010. The second most important museum in Greece next to Athens, it hosts (or rather: will host when it is finished) the most magnificent collection of Minoan art and culture in the world, collected from excavations carried out in all parts of Crete. While the former Minister of Culture, Giórgos Voulgarákis, had previously announced that the museum would open again in 2008, it now turns out that “funding is inadequate”, according to the director of the museum, Nóta Demopoúlou. That’s the official version. According to a local newspaper, Nea Kriti, the same director has confidentially and off the record stated that at this pace they won’t even make it in 2010. In the meantime I guess they will continue hosting a small portion of the total collection in the temporary 350-sq.m. shelter which was set up in Hatzidakis Street when the Archaeological Museum was closed for renovations in 2006. The problem there is that, as the space is so small, visitors will have to enter in small groups of 200 people per hour. This means that there will be long queues, and that cruise ship passengers stopping in Heraklion for 4-5 hours won’t have time to see the exhibits. Cruise ships generally have about 2,000 passengers, meaning that it would take them 10 hours! If you are amongst the lucky no-cruise-shippers, and are prepared to queue a bit, you still get to see some of the most well known artifacts, like the “Prince of the Lilies” fresco from Knossos and about 450 of the 15,000 museum exhibits, from prehistoric to Roman times. Representative figurines, Neolithic tools from sites across Crete, Prepalatial and Early Palatial pottery, seals and jewellery and the large impressive vases from Phaistos will be on display in cases. You can also see the Phaistos Disc, finds from the Palace of Zakros, double axes, the famous snake goddesses, the bull’s head with golden horns and the best-known frescos, such as the “Bull Leaping”, “La Parisienne”, the “Saffron Gatherers” and the “Blue Bird”. [Updated on May, 8th, 2009] An article in the Nea Kriti newspaper of today confirms that the Archaeological Museum will remain closed until the second half of 2010, as per the Greek Ministry of Culture spokesman. Sorry to disappoint you.