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Top Museums in Athens - Athens Museums - Athens Museums https://www.athens-museums.com Sat, 23 Mar 2019 18:54:10 +0000 en-gb Acropolis Museum https://www.athens-museums.com/guide/history-archaeology/2-acropolis-museum https://www.athens-museums.com/guide/history-archaeology/2-acropolis-museum Acropolis Museum

The Museum of Acropolis is the newest architectural jewel of the city of Athens. Its building is a modern one covered mostly with glass that allows the natural sunlight to lighten the statues and relieves of Acropolis and a constant view to the actual sit of the Acropolis.

As the visitor approaches the building, he can see through the glass floor the ongoing excavation of houses and public buildings form the 5th B.C. to the7th A.D that stood at the feet of Acropolis. The exhibition starts at the ground floor. On both right and left side of the ramp are displayed artifacts that were discovered at the slopes of Acropolis. The show cases hold vases of various types that date form 3000 BC to 1st century BC. The decoration of the vases varies. In some cases it is geometrical (7th -9th century B.C.), in others black figured (7th-5th century B.C.) and eventually red-figured (5th -1st century B.C.). There also some small statues and relieves that are votives to the small temples and sanctuaries that also used to be on the slopes of the Sacred Rock of Acropolis.

On the first floor right in front of the stairs and slightly to the right the exhibition holds fragments of the pediments of the temples that existed on the Acropolis’ rock prior to the Persian invasion. On the right side of this floor the archaic statues that stood as votives outside and inside of the temples are displayed. Kouroi and Korae, the distinct types of male and female statues of the era can been admired here. The visitor has the opportunity to witness the stylistic development in Sculpture of this period. Further down the exhibition, there are few samples of the Severe Style (490-450 BC) in Sculpture and the famous relief of the Mourning Athena. If the visitor wants to follow a chorological path through the museum, he should move to the second floor and not visit the left side of the floor at this point.

On the second floor there is a café-restaurant, a shop, a multimedia center and a terrace.

The exhibition continues on the third floor, where is the Parthenon Gallery. Here, the visitor can admire the sculptures of the pediment and the relieves of the metopes and frieze of the Parthenon. They are placed in a manner that simulates their original position. Moreover through the surrounding windows the visitor can see the actual building of the Parthenon where the sculptures initially stood. Copies of the original statues that are today at the British museum are supplied in order the visitor to be able to understand better the whole synthesis of the sculptural decoration of the temple. On the east side stand the fractures of the east pediment. Behind those, the east metopes and the east part of the frieze is displayed. In the same way on the west side of the floor the west side of the decoration of the Parthenon is shown and the same arrangement is carried on the north and south part of the floor. The third floor also has a small room where a film about the history of the building of the Parthenon is presented. The films shows the gradual destruction of the temple through the ages and wars, its transformation to Church and then to mosque and eventually the subtraction of the Parthenon sculptures by Lord Elgin.

Following the chronological order the visitor should return to the first floor in order to admire the sculptural decoration and the famous Caryatides of the Erectheion, the temple which was built about the same time as the Parthenon. The temple of the Athena- Nike is the newest temple of that era. The frieze of the parapet of the Athena –Nike is famous for the beautiful Nike that laces her sandals and can be admired here. The left side of the first floor contains statues from the 5th century BC. to the 5th century A.D. As Athens decline begins (due to the Peloponnesian war) less and less works of art are created for the Sacred Rock of Acropolis.

Overall the Museum of Acropolis is a modern museum which combines a strategic architectural design, beautiful and important artifacts and modern technology. It is planned in a way that helps the visitor understand better the art and culture of the classical Athens. Moreover it is a museum with an obvious political message. As copies of the missing sculpture emphasize the lack of the originals subtracting something crucial form the experience the visitor is almost forced to wish to return of the marbles of Parthenon to Athens.

Tip:  Famous for its cuisine and its low prices has become the restaurant of the Acropolis museum. In order, though, to try it one has to pay the entrance fee of the museum.

Every Friday the museum is open untill 10 o'clock at night and its' famous restaurant is on untill 12 o' clock at night. Enjoy a perfect evening!

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htragea@athens-museums.com (Helen Tragea) History & Archaeology Fri, 28 May 2010 00:00:00 +0000
National Archaeological Museum https://www.athens-museums.com/guide/history-archaeology/11-national-archaeological-museum https://www.athens-museums.com/guide/history-archaeology/11-national-archaeological-museum National Archaeological Museum

The National Archaeological Museum is the biggest museum of Athens and one of the most important in the world. It is situated in a majestic neoclassical building created by L. Lange and Ziller in the 19th century. The exhibits cover a large chronological and geographical span offering sample from many different periods and places of Greece.

When the visitor enters the museum he is faced with three different doors. Straight in front of him is the room with the Prehistoric Collection.
 The Prehistoric Collection is divided into three rooms. On the right, the room is dedicated to the Cycladic Civilization (circa 2.800 B.C). Vases and everyday objects that were discovered mostly in cemeteries of various Cycladic islands are displayed here. The Cycladic figurines can also be seen in this room. There are some of the oldest ones, which are more abstract, and the famous harp player and flute player. The left room is devoted to the findings of the Neolithic settlements (circa 5.300 B.C.), presenting vases and everyday objects and some very early and abstract figurines. The room in the center contains objects form the Minoan and Mycenaean civilization. The visitor has the opportunity to admire that golden jewelry, the ornate swords and the golden funerary masks.

Going back to the entrance of the museum the visitor should go to the left door. Here stats the Sculptural Collection which follows a circular route and presents the development of sculpture in ancient Greece. The Sculptural Collection ends at the right side of the entrance bringing the visitor back to where he started. In the first room on the right the beginning of monumental sculpture in Greece in demonstrated. Daedalic sculptures heavily influenced by the sculptures of Ancient Egypt are shown here. The next rooms display Kouroi and Korae the male and female type of the Archaic Sculpture. The development is obvious through a variety of sculptures. Severe Style (490-450 B.C.) is also represented. The famous bronze statue of Poseidon/ Zeus of this period can be seen here. Many rooms contain relieves from the tombstones of the Athens’ ancient graveyard, demonstrating the development in the technique of the relief. Further along the visitor will find a copy of Pheidias Athena, and statues of the other famous classical sculptor Polykleitos. The Hellenistic Sculpture is also presented. The assemblage of Aphrodite and Satyr and the statue Hermaphrodite are characteristic examples of the Hellenistic period. The last rooms of this tour contains sculptures of the Roman period. The visitor can admire some very realistic portraits of the Roman Emperors.

On the back side of the museum, which can be reached by the circular route that was described above, there are the rooms where the temporary exhibitions are held and the private collections are kept. The right side is where the visitor can see the current exhibition of the museum. On the other side some private collections that were donated to the museum are presented. They contain mostly small but valuable objects (jewelry, small figurines) that might belong to prehistoric times or even to the Byzantine period. Moreover, several rooms display artifacts made out of metal. Metallic vases with elaborate decoration can be seen here. The armor of the era is part of this exhibition. Also the famous and mysterious mechanism of Antikythera is on display. At the end of this series of rooms a chariot with all its metallic parts is represented. On this side of the museum, there is also a small collection of Egyptian artifacts containing sarcophagus, figurines, funerary objects and roman fayum. 
On the second floor of the museum the central room displays vases murals and even furniture that was discovered in Thera and are dated to circa 1600 B.C.. On the right side begins a circular route which is dedicated to development of the decoration and the technique of construction of vases. Numerous examples of prehistoric, geometrical, eastern, black figured and eventually red figured vases can be found in these rooms. There are also rooms that display metal or even glass vases. On the same floor there are rooms that are displaying the development of clay figurines. One can also see the art of the ancient Cyprus, where vases, jewels and figurines of that area are also presented.

Tip: The visitor can hardly see and appreciate the wealth of the National Archaeological museum in few hours. Its extent and variety of exhibits demands a second visit. My advice is to see the two floors in two different days. On the other hand if someone wishes to browse quickly through it, it would be better to enjoy the Mycenaean art and the rooms with the more famous sculptures and then go directly to the room devoted to Thera. A quick walk on the second floor to witness the development in the manufacture of vases should be adequate.

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htragea@athens-museums.com (Helen Tragea) History & Archaeology Thu, 29 Jul 2010 00:00:00 +0000
Cycladic Art Museum https://www.athens-museums.com/guide/history-archaeology/7-cycladic-art-museum https://www.athens-museums.com/guide/history-archaeology/7-cycladic-art-museum Cycladic Art Museum

The Cycladic Art Museum is located in two different buildings, next to each other which are connected by a glass-roofed corridor. The main building built in 1985 by the architect Ioannis Vikelas houses the permanent collections of the museum. The Stathatos Mansion, a neoclassical building created by the architect Ziller in 1895, is the newest addition of the museum and usually houses temporary exhibitions. Even if the museum has taken its name from its prominent Cycladic collection, the visitor will be pleasantly surprised by its other collections and mostly by the very well presented information on various artistic techniques and everyday life and customs of the Ancient Greeks.

The first floor of the museum has the Cycladic collection. The Cycladic civilization developed mostly in the Cycladic islands between 3200-2100 B.C.. During this period was the first time that metal (bronze) was used for making tools. The collection contains artifacts of three different periods of the Cycladic Civilization. The visitor will be able to see the tools, the vases made by both clay and stone and most importantly the figurines of these periods. The marble more or less abstract Cycladic figurines have become famous since they have inspired many modern artists (for example Picasso). The collection has some of the early and late examples of the figurines which are really schematic and abstract. The more figurative ones belong to middle period, the time of the peak of the civilization. One figurine that will definitely capture the attention of the visitor is the one that is sited and raises its cup to make a toast. Also the large scale figurines are really impressive.

Cycladic Art Museum
Bull figurine (rhyton) -clay, Minoan, iddle Minoan I - II period, 2000-1700 BC and Figurine of a male votary -clay, Minoan, Middle Minoan I - II period, 2000-1700 BC

The second floor houses a collection by the title “Ancient Greek Art, which covers the Middle and Late Bronze Age (2000 - 1650/1650 - 1100 BC), Dark Ages” – Geometric period (1100 - 700 BC), Archaic period (700 - 480 BC), Classical period (480 - 323 BC), Hellenistic period (323 - 31 BC), Roman period (31 BC – AD 395). Vases, tools, fragments of sculpture, golden jewelry, vases made of glass and bronze helmets represent these periods. At the end of the room there are some tables accompanied by pictures, graphics and video that explain how all these things were manufactured. The visitor has the opportunity to understand the technique of pottery, goldsmith art, wind-blown glass and metallurgy.

The third floor has a collection of Cyprian Art that covers a period from Prehistoric times to Roman Empire. The collection has samples of vases, coins, glass utensils, jewelry. All of these artifacts are very similar to the Greek ones of the same period indicating that the same more or less culture was developed both in Greece and Cyprus.

The fourth floor is dedicated to everyday life of the ancient Greeks. Here, the exhibits are connected to photos, diagrams and videos that explain their use to the visitor. There are several show cases that are dedicated on different events that would constitute the life of a common man of those times. Moreover on the back side of the room videos on the same subjects are projected. The visitor has a unique chance to see the rituals represented by actors. Every video is combined with the ancient text and pictures of sculpture and vase decoration that has provided the archaeologists with the necessary information.

The visitor can watch: 1. the ancient religion, its’ gods, heroes and its’ ceremonies 2. The wedding ritual, the adornment of the bride and her unveiling by the groom 3. The preparation of the soldier for the battle and the ritual of leaving his home, his wife and child. 4. The way the agora and the voting system functioned 5. The symposium, the entertainment. 6. The athletes’ preparation and their award. 7. The ritual of giving name to new born child. 8. The women's occupation: raising the children and waving. 8. Children going to school.

In a different section the habits and the rituals related to death are presented: 1. the mourning and burial of the dead, 2. paying respect to the dead by visiting the grave and making offerings.
The Cycladic Art museum has two great advantages: an impressive collection of art and high informative and educational value. Instead of just presenting the artifacts of the ancient civilization the museum's goal is to offer the visitor information in a fun and in a easy to understand way. Thus the objects, which are being presented, attain new meaning and value for the visitor.

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htragea@athens-museums.com (Helen Tragea) History & Archaeology Wed, 28 Jul 2010 00:00:00 +0000
EMST National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens https://www.athens-museums.com/guide/art-design/12-national-museum-of-contemporary-art https://www.athens-museums.com/guide/art-design/12-national-museum-of-contemporary-art EMST National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens

The National Museum of Contemporary Art is fairly new since it started operating in 2000. Its’ aim is to offer an official space for contemporary Greek and foreign artists, to organize exhibitions and eventually to build its own collection. 

The new reconstruction of the former Fix brewery building has been completed. However, only the two levels of temporary exhibitions are open. At this point there is no permanent collection on display. The museum organizes exhibitions that include parts of what will become the permanent collection of the museum.

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htragea@athens-museums.com (Helen Tragea) Art & Design Wed, 28 Jul 2010 22:09:57 +0000
B&M Theocharakis Foundation for the Fine Arts and Music https://www.athens-museums.com/guide/art-design/33-bm-theocharakis-foundation-for-the-fine-arts-and-music https://www.athens-museums.com/guide/art-design/33-bm-theocharakis-foundation-for-the-fine-arts-and-music B&M Theocharakis Foundation for the Fine Arts and Music

In 2005 the Theocharakis Foundation bought and restored one of the last standing old buildings of the centre of Athens. The building was renovated and its interior was reformed so that it could function as an exhibition area and as a concert hall. The building has 6 floors. On the lower ground level there is an Auditorium with the capacity of 175 seats. On the ground floor there is the reception area and an art shop. A café can be found on the first floor while the second third and fourth floor function as exhibition areas. On the fifth floor the permanent collection of the Modern Greek painter Spyros Papaloukas is housed.

The Building

The building was originally the house of K. Renti. It was designed and built by the Greek architect Vassilis Tsagris in the years 1928-1930. Tsagris had also worked in Vienna. He had his own style and he has influenced many other Greek architects. The style of the building is eclectic combining various elements of the neoclassic style (which in these years has begun to fade away) and the elements of French architecture. The ground floor and the entrance bare have a simple grand volume hat functions as a pedestal for the rest more decorated building. Columns with capitals emphasize the vertical axon elongating the building. The strong cornice of the top of the building captures the spectator’s gaze creating dramatic shadows. Details such as the metallic rail of the balconies are the stylistic signature of Tsagris. After years of various uses this historic building is now a house of arts.

The permanent collection of Spyros Papaloukas

On the fifth floor there is a permanent collection of the Greek Painter Spyros Papaloukas (1892–1957). The painter studied art in the school of Arts of Athens and then in Paris. His style combines influences of post- impressionism artists such as Van Gogh, Matisse and Cezanne with the Byzantine Art. The abstraction, the intense brush strokes and the lively colors of his works make him a truly modern painter.

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htragea@athens-museums.com (Helen Tragea) Art & Design Mon, 30 May 2011 00:00:00 +0000
Benaki Museum (central building) https://www.athens-museums.com/guide/history-archaeology/5-benaki-museum-central-building https://www.athens-museums.com/guide/history-archaeology/5-benaki-museum-central-building Benaki Museum (central building)

The Benaki Museum is set in a neoclassical building which was completed in 1895 by the architecture Metaxas. It was known as Harokopos mansion until it was bought by the Benaki family in 1910. New wings were added to the original building which eventually in 1930 was transformed into a museum. The Benaki Museum holds several permanent collections. It also organizes interesting exhibitions usually of contemporary art.

On the ground floor the first two rooms present the prehistoric collection of the museum. More specifically in the first room the visitor will be able to see tools, figurines and vases form the Neolithic Greece (circa 6.500 B.C.). The second room has Cycladic vases and some examples of the famous marble figurines (circa 3200 B.C.). Here, Mycenaean jewelry and vases are also presented. Moreover there are some vases with geometric decoration. The rooms 3, 4, 5 and 6 are devoted mostly to the classical Greece. They display black and red figure vases, fractures of sculpture of the era and some jewelry that was discovered in “thesaurus”. The rooms 7, 8 and 9 cover the Hellenistic and Roman period. Here, vases, fragments of sculpture and jewelry are presented. In room number 8 there are some carved plaques made of bone. These were inlaid in wooden furniture. This kind of furniture decoration indicates the opulence of the life style in the Roman Empire. The same opulence is obvious in the heavy gold jewelry on display in the next room. In this room some portraits of the dead (fayums) of the Roman period along with samples of the early Byzantine icons are displayed. In this way the visitor can witness first-had the huge influence that the fayums had on Byzantine painting. The rest rooms of the ground floor hold the Byzantine collection. Manuscripts, jewelry, mosaics of the 7th and 8th century can be seen. The visitor can also admire Byzantine icons and precious, ornate crosses and vessels of the 13th, 14th and 15th century A.D..

The first floor is dedicated to the 17th, 18th and 19th century of Greece. Most rooms have on display the clothing and the furniture that was typical in various areas of Greece during this period. In some rooms one can find small paintings and sketches with landscape form Greece made by foreign travelers. In the room 21 the visitor can see a kind of hand carried carriage that belonged to the wife of the administrator of the Corfu Island. Very impressive are also the rooms 17 and 19. Both of them are reconstructions of the reception area of wealthy houses of Kozani of the 18th century. Wooden, heavily carved furniture and walls convey to the spectator the wealth and the luxury of these houses.

On the second are usually set the various exhibitions that are organized periodically by the museum. Here, the café-restaurant of the museum is situated. It has an extended balcony with a view to the city of Athens.

On the third floor there are historic paintings that represent battles of the struggle of Greeks against the Turkish dominion. The visitor can admire some of the painting of Bryzakis, the first important Greek painter of the New Greek State. There are also portraits of the most known captains and politicians of the newly founded Greek state. The official royal court clothing can also be seen here. At the back of this room there are some paintings of Parthenis and Gyzis, two famous Greek painters of the 19th century.

Tip: The café –restaurant of the museum is accessible even without paying the fee-entrance of the museum. While it offers  great quality, its' prices are rather high. On weekend mornings you will probably find middle aged high class women of the near by area (Kolonaki) enjoying their coffee.

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htragea@athens-museums.com (Helen Tragea) History & Archaeology Wed, 28 Jul 2010 00:00:00 +0000
Museum of Keramikos https://www.athens-museums.com/guide/history-archaeology/9-museum-of-keramikos https://www.athens-museums.com/guide/history-archaeology/9-museum-of-keramikos Museum of Keramikos

The museum of Keramikos is situated in the archaeological site of Keramikos. The entrance fee is both for the museum and the site.
At the site of Keramikos the visitor can see the walls of the ancient city of Athens and the main monumental gate to the town. The entrance to the city had at both sides two big towers that were used for protection against hostile armies. A small part of the Sacred road leading from the suburbs to the Sacred Rock of Acropolis can also be seen here. Next to the road there is the canal where the ancient river Iridanos flowed. Outside the city walls, on the site of Keramikos was the city's cemetery. The ancient Athenians had built a square at the edge of the cemetery. There, rituals and sport events were organized in honor of the dead.

The museum of Keramicos is a small place that holds the findings of the archaeological site. In the first room the visitor will see the tombstones that adorned the cemetery. The older ones belong to the Archaic period (9th -7th century B.C.) and the newest ones to the Roman period. In these grave stones the development of the sculptural style and the technique of the relief are obvious. The interior yard also contains sculptures and scriptures on stone from the cemetery.
The following rooms have vases, jewelry and other objects that were offered as kterismata (objects that supposedly accompanied the dead to his afterlife). The last room has artifacts that were discovered in a group tomb of men, women and children. It seems that in the 429-426 a malady infested Athens killing a substantial number of the population. The authorities gathered the bodies of the dead and buried them hastily in a group tomb so that the living would not be contaminated.


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htragea@athens-museums.com (Helen Tragea) History & Archaeology Wed, 28 Jul 2010 00:00:00 +0000
Numismatic Museum https://www.athens-museums.com/guide/history-archaeology/4-numismatic-museum https://www.athens-museums.com/guide/history-archaeology/4-numismatic-museum Numismatic Museum

The Numismatic Museum is in the house of the famous archaeologist, Heinrich Schliemann. The building- designed by Schliemann’s friend Ziller- was completed in 1881. It is one of the few buildings of that era that remain intact and standing in Athens. It combines elements of an Italian Renaissance house and the neoclassical style that was popular in Greece at that period. Its interior is beautifully decorated with mosaics, murals and painted ceilings. The decoration of the mosaics is inspired by Schliemann’ s finding at the excavation of  Mycenae. The murals and the ceilings imitate the paintings that were found in the Pompeii. The building’s beauty alone justifies a visit.

The first room of the museum on the right side contains information about the building itself and the private coin collection of Schliemann. The second room exhibits the objects (pieces of metal) that were used as the first currency of the human history and then some of the oldest coins. The same room also contains several “thesaurus” of various areas and times that were found in excavations. In general, the first floor is dedicated to the coins of Ancient Greece until the Hellenistic period. Some rooms accentuate the history of the coins while others (4 and 5) the representations that were on these coins and their artistic value.

On the second floor the history of coins continues. In the first room there are the roman coins and in the second room the Byzantine ones. The room contains the medieval coins both of the Western Europe and the countries of the east. A small sample of modern foreign coins is displayed in the room number 4. The sixth room contains coins and medals of the new Greek State (after 1821). In the last room of this floor one can see the Greek coins pounds of the period of the inflation during the Second World War.

Tip:  In front of the museum there is a small secluded garden decorated with a statue offering a green refuge right in the centre of Athens. At the back of the garden the café of the museum is situated, which is accessible even if one doesn’t want to visit the museum and pay the fee of entrance.

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htragea@athens-museums.com (Helen Tragea) History & Archaeology Tue, 27 Jul 2010 00:00:00 +0000
Epigraphical Museum https://www.athens-museums.com/guide/history-archaeology/231-epigraphical-museum https://www.athens-museums.com/guide/history-archaeology/231-epigraphical-museum Epigraphical Museum

The Epigraphical Museum is unique in Greece and the largest of its kind in the world. It safeguards 13,510, mostly Greek, inscriptions, which cover the period from early historical times to the Late Roman period, primarily in Greece.

 

The museum is housed in the south wing ground floor of the National Archaeological Museum. It comprises an internal and external courtyard (atrium), a lobby, eleven rooms, a large hypostyle Pi-shaped corridor, a gallery, offices, a laboratory for the conservation of inscribed stone monuments and lavatories. Only the courtyards, lobby and four rooms are open to the public; the other premisces are accessible only to researchers and staff.

The purpose of the museum, which is a Special Regional Service of the Ministry of Culture, is to safeguard, protect, conserve, display and promote the epigraphical collections that it contains. The museum also aims to comprise photographic and impression archives and a specialized epigraphy library. Moreover, a digital catalogue of the inscriptions is currently under construction, so that the collection can be accessible digitally to future visitors.

The inscriptions in the permanent collection of the Epigraphical Museum are, mostly, Greek and come mainly from Attica. A small number (about 40) of Latin and Hebrew funerary inscriptions of the sixteenth-seventeenth centuries come from Mystra. Most of the inscriptions (98%) are carved on stone or marble, but there are also stamped amphora handles and inscribed clay roof-tiles. Chronologically, the inscriptions range from the eighth century BC to the Late Roman period, with the exception of a few examples which date to the Byzantine and Modern era.

The display in the lobby and in the more recent rooms (9 and 10) follows contemporary museological standards and aesthetic considerations, and has mainly an educational character. In the other rooms, the exhibits were grouped according to the shape and size of the stone blocks, and the type and contents of the inscription. The most important examples on account of their contents (honorary decrees, alliance treaties, lists, economic accounts etc) are displayed in the lobby and in rooms 1 and 2, which are open to the public.

The visitor has at their disposition the information summary provided by the bilingual (Greek and English) exhibit panels and the special volumes containing the ancient texts of those inscriptions displayed in the new rooms (9 and 10). Bibliographical references for the other inscriptions are available on their labels, so that the visitor can look up the relevant publication in the museum's library. The computer in the lobby provides general information on the history of Greek writing.

Author: M. Tsouli, archaeologist

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htragea@athens-museums.com (Helen Tragea) History & Archaeology Sun, 06 Apr 2014 00:00:00 +0000
Public Gallery of Athens https://www.athens-museums.com/guide/art-design/25-public-gallery-of-athens https://www.athens-museums.com/guide/art-design/25-public-gallery-of-athens Public Gallery of Athens

The gallery has been moved in a new location at the area of Metaxourgio. The gallery is housed in an old neo-classical building of the 19th century which was donated to the municipality of Athens and has been thoroughly restored. The visitor can finally enjoy the extended collection of the paintings of famous Greek painters of the 19th and mostly the 20th century in an open well lighted space.

The building

The building has its own historical and artistic value. It was built by the architect Athens Hans Christian Hansen (20 April 1803 – 2 May 1883). He was one of the preferred architects of King Otto and he also built the University of Athens. Initially the building was constructed as a factory of silk (in Greek metaxi) and from it the whole area has taken the name Metaxourgio. At that point it was situated at the edge of Athens but as the city grew the neighborhood has become central. The building has also functioned as a hospital and a garrison station and then it was abandoned for several years. Today it has been transformed into the Public Gallery of Athens and it will hopefully be the first step in the upgrading of this whole area of Athens.

The collections

The collection of the Public Gallery of Athens is divided in two buildings which are situated the one right next to the other on a newly built square. The first building contains paintings from the second half of the 19th century and the beginnings of the 20th. In the first room one can admire the portraits of the high society of the Old Athens made by renowned painters such as Vikatos and Typaldos. In this room there are also some sculptural busts made by Apartis and Lameras. In the second room among other things the visitor can admire some of the works of the unique expressionistic Greek painter Bouzianis. In the third room the paintings are more modern. Here  works of Greek painters, that were influenced by the European art movements, are displayed. One can discover cubism in the works of Giga, surrealism in the paintings of Eggonopoulos and primitivism in the art of Gaitis and Astriades. However, these painters do not simply imitate the work of the foreigner artists that were the  leading men of  these artistic movements. They create original works of art by integrating the new elements to their own culture and to their own personal style. In the same room one can witness the influence of Byzantine art in the Modern Greek art and more specifically in the paintings of Kontoglou and Moralis.

The second building holds the most recent and contemporary pieces of the public collection. Elements of an optic art can be discovered in the paintings of Zouni. Abstraction is represented by Spyropoulos. Here there are also constructions and small installations of the contemporary Greek artists.

Even though the Public Gallery has not the wealth of the National Gallery, the visitor here has the opportunity to see some of the most important Greek artists. The progression from a more academic kind of art to modern movements and then to contemporary aesthetics is clearly visible.

Tips:
1. The neighborhood in which the new Public Gallery of Athens is situated is not one of the most reputable of Athens. In case you are not very sure of your step in Athens I would advice to avoid visiting the Gallery after dark.
2. The guards are very children friendly providing toys and music for their young visitors.

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htragea@athens-museums.com (Helen Tragea) Art & Design Mon, 01 Nov 2010 00:00:00 +0000