Asian Dictator of Taste Visits the Benaki Museum in Athens
The Benaki Museum was founded in 1930 by Antonis Benakis whom it took its very name. The museum was initially Benakis’ paternal home which was converted into the first private museum in Greece. According to the museum’s pamphlet, Antonis Benakis started collecting the collections in the museum when he was still in Egypt and donated them to the Greek State in 1926, when he settled in Athens permanently. The Benaki Museum houses important artifacts that reflect Greek history through the ages, beginning from the Pre Historic Ages until the declaration of the Greek Independence or the modern times. Benaki’s initiative brought immediate response by the public. The constant increase of benefactors and donors led to the increase of important collections or works of art which filled the gaps and made it easier for the visitor to further understand Greek culture and history.
The interior of the museum is marvelous and it is no doubt one of the most sophisticated neoclassical buildings in Athens. The museum is a three-floor building that is divided in to thirty- six galleries. Every gallery represents a particular period of time and as the visitor ascends into the floor building, the more he or she goes closer to the modern times. This mainly contributes to the overall organization of the museum. With this wide range of time it is evident that the Greek culture and history is rich.The galleries that can be found at the ground floor introduces the visitor to the early times of Greek History from the Neolithic period (6500 – 3200 B.C.), the Bronze Age, the Geometric period, the Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic Period until the Roman and Byzantine Period. The first floor on the other hand is interesting since it differs from the ground floor. If pots, marbles, primitive tools jewelries and other forms of artifacts that were excavated can be seen at the ground floor, one can see Greece’s secular art during the period of foreign occupation, costumes, embroideries, jewelries, ceramics, wood carvings and paintings at the first floor. This is really interesting because every visitor can see the culture in different parts of Greece through the costumes and many other objects that reflect their daily lives. Moreover, one can see the influences that the foreign occupation brought to Greece from the 17th to 19th centuries. The S. & E. Kostopolos Gallery can be found in the second floor. Although this floor mainly does not have the same importance for the understanding of Greek history, this gallery exhibits Greek important artists. Moving up to the third floor, one is introduced to the modern times in which the Greeks struggled for independence and the formation of the Modern Greek state. In this floor, every visitor will be able to learn about the important Greek figures that contributed to the Modern Greek thinking and those who contributed to the formation of the Modern Greek State. Generally, I enjoyed visiting this museum because it really encompasses the whole history of Greece throughout the ages.