A new house for the legacy of Nobel Prize-winning poet Odysseas Elytis

Odysseas Elytis
Odysseas Elytis
Odysseas Elytis: Greek poet, painter and 1979 Nobel Prize winner. Photo: Instagram @mygreeknotes

Odysseas Elytis, Greek poet, painter, and 1979 Nobel Prize winner in Literature, has been one of the most prominent figures of Greek and European poetry since the 20th century.

Born in 1911 in Heraklion, Crete and raised in Athens, Elytis survived two World Wars and left behind an invaluable legacy of works of literature, with his most notable collection of poems, ‘Axion Esti’, still being one of most iconic poetic compositions of the Greek arts to this day.

His works have been analysed by art experts and curators all around the world, while his poems have been studied in Greek schools for decades.

Since his passing in 1996, numerous organisations, researchers, educational institutions and fans of literature and the arts, have asked the Greek Ministry of Culture to create a space to house all of the poet’s works, notebooks and personal belongings as a tribute to Elytis.

In 2013, the green light to create the Elytis House museum was given by the then Ministry of Culture and Sports, and its construction started earlier this year.

According to an announcement by the Ministry “intellectuals and literature enthusiasts will now be able to know the power of the work of the great poet Elytis in a place in Plaka, Athens, designed specifically for the poet and dedicated to his personality, life and the valuable national legacy with which he enriched the whole of Greece. Our goal is to create an educational hub, open to everyone, within the Elytis museum as well.”

A detached house with great post-war historical importance, along with two auxiliary buildings – all owned by the Ministry of Culture – are already being restored to house all of the poet’s works and belongings.

Located at the junction of Dioskourou and Polygnotou streets in the centre of Athens, the new house of Elytis will be redesigned to look like the poet’s real-life home in order to give visitors a glimpse of how he lived whilst creating some of his most famous poems and paintings.

house of Odysseas Elytis
House of Odysseas Elytis. Photo: Eurokinissi

Museum House of Odysseas Elytis

The Elytis House will include various spaces for the exhibition of the poet’s works, but also areas for the storage of the Elytis archive.

Visual materials will be displayed throughout the museum house, with original and never seen before footage of the poet, interviews and poem recitations. Photographs, texts, audio and visual presentations, will also be available to visitors while his office will be restored with his personal items, notebooks, pens, and more.

A reception area for the public will be created on the ground floor of the Elytis House to host several exhibits and to present the most important milestones in the life and work of the poet.

Additionally, the poet’s original works (52 books in total) will be displayed in chronological order, along with manuscripts, paintings-collages of Elytis as well as works that he loved and to which he has referred to in his art, audio documents and cinematographic material.

A new house for the legacy of Nobel Prize-winning poet Odysseas Elytis 1
House of Odysseas Elytis. Photo: Eurokinissi

Apart from an Elytis museum for fans of the arts and literature, the Ministry of Culture and Sports is aiming to create an educational centre within the Elytis house, where people will be able to study, research and explore old and modern Greek literature.

To achieve this goal, a multipurpose room for lectures, conferences, educational programs, and also music and poetry events, will be built within the Elytis museum.

A small cafe overlooking the Acropolis, Pnykas Hill and the Observatory, will be created in the foyer of the house.

The basement of the Elytis House will be used as a library, open to the public, with books, journals, magazines (over 1000 titles), disks, photographic, audio and film material. Scholars and students will have access to all publications, Greek and foreign, as well as stored archival material, original scripts, press clippings, photos, posters and more.

A new house for the legacy of Nobel Prize-winning poet Odysseas Elytis 2
Photo: Instagram @minculturegr

The proposal to the Ministry of Culture to create the Elytis museum was initiated in 2013 by Mrs. Ioulita Iliopoulou, owner of the Elytis archive and estate, and was approved by the Ministry a few months later.

“Odysseas Elytis, with the treasure that was his poetry, honoured Greece and the Greek language by traveling people on sloping dolphin ridges, to the ends of the world. The creation of a space for the study and promotion of his work is the minimum tribute that we can do for this great Greek poet,” said the Minister of Culture and Sports, Ms. Lina Mendoni.

The budget for this project amounts to 657,200 euros and its auction is scheduled for the first quarter of 2021, with numerous public and private organisations and investors expressing interest in taking part in the creation process to honour one of Greece’s most notable poets, Odysseas Elytis.

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