The Info List - Benaki Museum

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The Benaki Museum, established and endowed in 1930 by Antonis Benakis in memory of his father Emmanuel Benakis, is housed in the Benakis family mansion in downtown Athens, Greece. The museum houses Greek works of art from the prehistorical to the modern times, an extensive collection of Asian art, hosts periodic exhibitions and maintains a state-of-the-art restoration and conservation workshop. Although the museum initially housed a collection that included Islamic
art, Chinese porcelain
Chinese porcelain
and exhibits on toys, its 2000 re-opening led to the creation of satellite museums that focused on specific collections, allowing the main museum to focus on Greek culture
Greek culture
over the span of the country's history.


1 Athens

1.1 2000 re-opening

2 Satellite museums

2.1 Benaki Museum
Benaki Museum
of Islamic

3 Gallery 4 See also 5 References 6 Further reading 7 External links


Theodoros Poulakis: Icon
illustrating the Hymn to the Virgin, 17th century

The museum's primary home is in the Benakis' house opposite the National Garden on Queen Sofias Avenue and owes its existence to the generosity of Antonis Benakis, whose family lived in Alexandria, Egypt. In 1931, the Benakis donated the family's house in Athens
and their collection of more than 37,000 Islamic
and Byzantine
objects. More than 9,000 artifacts were added by the 1970s, which spurred donations from other sources.[1] Benakis remained active in the museum until his death in 1954.[2] Under the directorship of Angelos Delivorrias, the museum added more than 60,000 objects, books and documents, some of which were purchased and others donated. Delivorrias opts to focus on displaying donated items in order to encourage public participation and strengthen the community's ties to the museum.[1] The museum also focuses on the fact that Greek history does not begin and end with specific events but rather exists along a continuum that continues today.[3] Parts of the museum's collections have travelled worldwide, including Canada
in 2008,[4] the United States
United States
in 1959 in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution[5] and in 2005, an Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
solid gold drinking cup left Greece
for the first time and traveled to the Powerhouse Museum
Powerhouse Museum
in Sydney
and the Melbourne
Immigration Museum in Melbourne, Australia.[6] 2000 re-opening[edit] In 2000, the Benaki Museum
Benaki Museum
reopened following a $20 million renovation and restoration of the building, which had been damaged in an earthquake.[3] The renovation allowed it to become the only museum in Greece
that brings visitors through all ages of Greek culture
Greek culture
and history. It is also unique in that it does not focus on nationalism but rather recognizes and celebrates the foreign influences on Greek culture.[1] Although the museum's director, Angelos Delivorrias, came up with the idea to refocus the museum and its exhibits in 1973, more than 25 years passed before he was able to make this a new reality. This reality involved moving the museum's collections of Islamic
Art and Chinese porcelain
Chinese porcelain
with painting to other locations so that the main museum in Athens
would focus solely on Greece.[1] Satellite museums[edit] Over the years the museum has been further endowed by various donors, and it now includes the seaside Kouloura Mansion in Palaio Phaliro, which houses the Toy Museum, the Benaki Museum
Benaki Museum
of Islamic
Art in the Kerameikos
district, the Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas
Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas
Gallery in downtown Athens, the Benaki Museum
Benaki Museum
Pireos street Annex (138 Pireos street) and the Penelope Delta
Penelope Delta
House in Kifissia, which houses the Historical Archive Collection. Benaki Museum
Benaki Museum
of Islamic
Art[edit] As part of the museum's re-focusing on Greek culture, its Islamic collection was moved to a new home in 2004 in time for the Athens Olympics. The new museum also has new galleries for temporary traveling exhibits.[7] The Islamic
art collections of the Benaki Museum
Benaki Museum
are housed in a complex of neo-classical buildings located in the historical centre of Athens, in the Kerameikos
district. Major archaeological sites located in the same area include the grounds of the ancient Agora (currently undergoing development), the Doric temple of Hephaestus (the "Theseio") and the Museum of the ancient Kerameikos
necropolis (cemetery). This complex of buildings at the corner of Agion Asomaton and Dipylou streets, was donated to the Museum by the late Lambros Eftaxias, who in his later years served as Honorary President of the Museum Board of Trustees. Inaugurated on 27 July 2004, the museum occupies more than 1,000 square meters of remodeled space showcasing: ceramics, pottery, metalwork, gold, woodcarvings, glasswork and textiles, bone carvings, inscribed funerary steles, arms and armor. The museum's collection is said to rank among the most important worldwide and includes masterpieces from India, Persia, Mesopotamia, the Middle East, Arabia, Egypt, North Africa, Sicily, Spain
and Asia Minor. Covering Islamic art from the 7th through the 19th centuries, it has a rich collection of Ottoman art from the Empire's peak in the 16th century.[8] Gallery[edit]

St Spyridon and scenes from his life by Theodoros Poulakis

Archangel Michael by Theodoros Poulakis

Adoration of the Magi by Ioannis Permeniatis

Adoration of the Magi by El Greco

Pieta by El Greco, 1566

St.Mark the Evangelist by Emmanuel Tzanes, 1657

Four military saints by Michael Damaskenos

Greek priest by Nikolaos Kantounis

The Sacred Band in Draghasani by Peter von Hess

Henry Pickersgill: Greek maiden, 1829

Dionysios Solomos, unknown artist

Death of Markos Botsaris by Marsigli Filippo

Old man wearing a red fez by Nikolaos Gyzis

Mitre of 1715

See also[edit]

List of museums with major collections of Islamic


^ a b c d Dina Kyriakidou (2000-07-22). "New Museum Celebrates Greece Through the Ages". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2008-05-29.  ^ "A Museum with a Point of View". The New York Times. 1981-12-27. Retrieved 2008-05-29.  ^ a b Frederika Randall (2000-05-26). "Reopened Benaki Museum
Benaki Museum
Shows Seven Millennia of Greek Art Treasures". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2008-05-29.  ^ Paul Gessell (2008-05-24). "Greeks Bearing Gifts". The Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 2008-05-29.  ^ "Greek Costumes on Display Here". The New York Times. 1959-10-25. Retrieved 2008-05-29.  ^ "A Cup Commeth". The Age. 2005-09-27. Retrieved 2008-05-29.  ^ Victoria Kyriakopoulous (2004-08-08). " Athens
Shows off its Olympic Face-lift". The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-05-29.  ^ Mona Khazindar (2005-01-08). " Islamic
Arts in Athens". Arab News. Retrieved 2008-05-29. 

Further reading[edit]

Sabetai, Victoria. (2006) Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum. Greece, Athens, Benaki Museum. Athens: Research Centre for Antiquity of the Academy of Athens. ISBN 9789604041015

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Benaki Museum.

The Benaki Museum
Benaki Museum
Collections Benaki Museum
Benaki Museum
- Ebook by Latsis Foundation

Coordinates: 37°58′33.38″N 23°44′25.47″E / 37.9759389°N 23.7404083°E / 37.9759389; 23.7404083

v t e

Museums in Athens


Acropolis Museum Epigraphical Museum Goulandris Museum of Cycladic Art Kerameikos Kanellopoulou Museum National Archaeological Museum Stoa of Attalos Old Acropolis Museum Syntagma Metro Station Archaeological Collection Museum of the Center for the Acropolis Studies Athens
International Airport Archaeological Collection

and ecclesiastic

and Christian Museum


War Museum Drossinis Museum Eleftherios Venizelos Historical Museum Goulandris Natural History
Museum Jewish Museum of Greece Museum of the City of Athens National Historical Museum


Museum of Greek Folk Art Museum of Greek Folk Musical Instruments Centre for the Study of Traditional Pottery Museum of the History
of the Greek Costume

Art museums/galleries

Benaki Museum Emfietzoglou Gallery Museum Frissiras Museum Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum Municipal Gallery of Athens National Gallery (Athens) National Glyptotheque National Museum of Contemporary Art


Evgenidio Foundation Hellenic Air Force Museum Hellenic Motor Museum Railway Museum of Athens Electric Railways Museum Technopolis (Gazi)

Education/sports/ Special

University Museum Hellenic Children's Museum Hellenic Cosmos Numismatic Museum of Athens Theatrical Museum of Greece Postal & Philatelic Museum of Greece

Museum ships

Georgios Averof Velos D16 SS Hellas Liberty Olympias

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 136821790 ISNI: 0000 0004 0492 768X GND: 2066829-6 SUDOC: 027909212 BNF: cb11984980f (dat