Stunning Goulandris Museum Opens in Athens

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Artworks you would need to travel the world to admire up close, and that travel you around the globe and beyond as you stand before them. Eleven floors dedicated to the life mission of Basil and Elise Goulandris’ passion for art and all its offerings to the evolution of human conscience and the world’s wealthy and diverse, rich and sometimes life-changing cultural heritage.

The Goulandris couple was immersed in the art world throughout their life, and indeed it is said that art itself is what brought them together in the first place. Throughout their lives, they were surrounded by artists and art lovers, and their many travels together were delineated by their constant search for gems to add to their collection, one that we can finally enjoy a visual feast of today in Pangrati. “This is a personal collection. The works they chose, they lived them; they enjoyed them in their daily lives; they discussed them with their friends and they constantly explored the dialogue between the works every time they repositioned them,” Maria Koutsomallis, head of the collection of the Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation told Kathimerini.

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*Greece's PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his wife Mareva at the opening of the new museum

Most importantly, the 7,250 square metre space aims to showcase art for the people, to educate and inspire through incredible examples of Greek and international sculpture, paintings, etchings and more. In explaining the concept, Kyriakos Koutsomalis the New Goulandris Museum Director, also director of the Goulandris Museum of Contemporary Art in Chora, Andros, says: “Art is a spiritual right and involves everyone. Certainly, we aspire to help develop a cultural awareness and identity, but always in the spirit of openness: we want the museum to touch everyone and not exclude anyone, we want to welcome immigrants and refugees, and generally vulnerable groups in our society via educational programmes - to exist through our actions, not words.”

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From the first artwork the Goulandris couple ever bought, El Greco’s breathtaking ‘Veil of St. Veronica’, to Degas’ renown sculpture of Little Dancer of Fourteen Years, the museum’s first two floors present, in large, open, beautifully lit spaces that offer the viewer the ideal sense of solitude for appreciating the 200 artworks, 19th and 20th Century contemporary pieces by some of the world’s greatest masters. Works by Chagall, Picasso, Matisse, Pollock, Braque, Miro, and Warhol are presented in the pre-WWII era (on the ground floor) and post WWII on the next floor up. There are two floors also dedicated to the best of Greece’s artists, with 400 artworks by masters such as Tsetsis, Moralis, Vari, Tsarouchis, Ghikas and many more painters and sculptors' grace the walls.

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Among its many aspects, from an 190 seat auditorium where free screenings, talks, concerts, and other events are to be held, to a 6,000-volume library, workshop areas designed for children and adults, a museum shop, a rooftop cafe serving Mediterranean cuisine and overlooking the Acropolis, and a garden, the museum will also be hosting two temporary exhibitions per year. The Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation will also be offering guided tours gratis to offer as much information and education to visitors about the Foundation and the artworks as possible. Fleurette Karadontis, the President of the Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation says “I feel this is the culmination of a big dream. When we saw the artworks laid out and placed on the walls we were all very moved. It’s as if these works have finally come home.”

A: 13 Eratosthenous Street, Athens 116 35

Alexia Amvrazi

Alexia Amvrazi enjoys the thrill of discovering beauty in the world around her. With a passionately hands-on approach to Greece's travel, gastronomy, holistic living, culture, innovation and creativity, for 20 years she has explored and shared her findings with the world on all aspects of the country and its people via writing, radio, blogs and videos. Although her childhood and early youth in Italy, Egypt and England left her feeling somewhat root-less, she is by now firmly connected to her native land, bravely weathering the hurricane known as the Greek crisis!