Benaki Museum is my favourite museum in Athens. Many temporary exhibitions are organized here. Last time we visited the Benaki Museum in April 2010 there were three temporary exhibions:
The first one "Hopes, dreams and hard times" included photos by Alexandros Lambrovassilis, photographer, and Achilleas Peklaris, journalist, both living in New York as foreign correspondents for a number of Greek magazines and newspapers. They both come face to face with one hundred and fifty different faces - all citizens of New York. Achilleas interviews them in a friendly fashion, while Alexandros takes an environmental portrait, allowing the participants to select the location and placing them in what they consider to be their natural environment.
The second one included photos by Ansel Adams (1902-1984), one of the greatest photographers of the twentieth century, best-known for his black-and-white photographs of the landscapes and national parks of the United States. His exceptionally sharp and impeccably high quality images record the magnificent beauty of the American wilderness. In his photographs Ansel Adams portrayed the entire tonal scale from white to black with many intervening shades of grey, so his images are characterised by their perfect photographic clarity. The exhibition comprised original prints selected by the artist himself during the final five years of his life, as representative samples of his creative output and which he gave into the care of his daughter Anne Adams-Helms shortly before his death.
The third exhibition was "To dress: Towards a Costume Culture Museum". The exhibition aimed to highlight the necessity of creating a Museum of the Culture of Costume in Greece. To this end, besides presenting collectible clothing, the exhibition also touched on the issue of the different functions of clothing and the different way costume can be interpreted by science of costume design.
The Benaki Museum was Athens first private museum and contains the Hellenic artefacts brought back to Athens by Antonis Benakis during his travels. The Islamic artefacts have now been moved to the Islamic annex of the museum in Kerameikos (see my other tip on that museum). The Benaki Museum (in Kolonaki) has four floors of items that begin with the earliest Cycladic and Mycenaean works and gradually work through Ancient, Roman-era and Byzantine and post-Byzantine pre-Independence works of art and pottery on the ground floor. The first floor contains an impressive collection of folk art and costumes, although the number of mannequins with traditional dress is a bit much. It also contains some interesting antique maps and ecclesiastical artefacts from Asia Minor and Greece proper. The second floor is for temporary exhibits (in June 2007, when I went, there was a coin exhibition) and the third floor is a fascinating collection of paintings, sculptures, letters, documents and artefacts all relating to the struggle for Greek independence, unity and constitutional monarchy, as well as some of the Nobel prizes awarded to Greek authors. This is a thoroughly enjoyable museum and should not be missed by any visitor to Athens.
If you're in Athens for an extended period of time, schedule the Benaki Museum for a Thursday, when the museum is open until midnight. This allows you to free up other time during the day to see the city's other museums, which are usually closed by 7PM.
Benaki was a Greek art collector who left his extrodinary collection to the people. The collection is among the best in the city. The collection features small sculpture, glass, ceramics, pottery, silver, and gold. There are two complete room interiors and displays on the history of Greece the fight for Greek independance. No cameras are allowed and bags had to be checked. The gift and reproduction shop had a wonderful selection (the best I saw in the city.) Don't miss this one.
The private collection of Antonis Benakis is housed in one of the few neoclassical buildings which has withstood the aesthetic changes of post-war Athens.
A journey through the museum passes through Ancient Greece and the Roman period, the Byzantine period, the Frankish and Ottoman occupations to the struggle for independence in the 19th century and the establishment of the Greek state thereafter.
The Museum also holds important collections of historic heirlooms, over 6000 paintings and drawings by Greek artists as well as Coptic, Chinese and Islamic art and a collection of toys and games from Greece and the wider world. There is admirable attention to the history of the museum, with special features on the founder, Antonis Benakis.
The Museum's Archive collection is particularly important.
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The Benaki Museum, was founded in 1.930 and named after its founder, Antonis Benaki (1.873-1.954), a scion of the historic family of the Greek diaspora from Alexandria.
It is a unique museum which through the 30.000 objects housed in its collections, presents a comprehensive panorama of the historical course of Greek civilization from the furthest Antiquity to the early 20 th century.
It spans the Roman domination, the medieval Byzantine period, the Frankisk and Ottoman occupation, the outbreak of Greek independence in 1821, the modern Greek state (1830), the Asia Minor disaster of 1922 and the aesthetic quest of the mid-war years.
Open: mon, wed, fr and sat from 9.00 to 17.00
sunday: 9.00 to 15.00
thursday: from 9.00 to 24.00
Price: 6 euros (I think, I´m not sure)
The building used to be the permanent residence of benaki´s family.
Forbidden taking photos from the inside of the museum.
The only one that i took was outside just to remember the building.
This is also kown as the Cycladic Museum. It was closed on my first trip so I could not miss it this time. Like most museums it has some prehistory, Roman periods. I enjoyed most the Byzantine Period and a section of the the culture, economy, and society.You could see their costums and how they used to lived many years ago.
This outstanding museum is a real must. Don’t miss it in any case! I feel ashamed to say that I visited the Benaki museum for the first time just a few days ago(Sep.2002). But when I finally made this visit,I realized what I was missing all this time.I didn’t expect it to be so large. And its exhibits are just innumerable(more than 30,000) and SO lavish! The items that are displayed illustrate the Greek art from prehistoric times until the 20th century. Each one of the 3 storeys of the building (plus the ground floor) is dedicated to one or more Eras.The ground floor contains items from the Prehistoric,Classical,Roman and Byzantine periods. Check the ultra-lavish jewellery that represents each period..You’ll be impressed by the great variety and refined art. Another must-see are the Fayum portraits. The second floor is the one that impressed me the most. There are exhibited collections of ecclesiastical and secular art that cover the period from the 15th to 19th centuries,when Greece was under the Frankish and Ottoman occupations. Rare ceramic pieces,traditional costumes, jewellery, embroideries dating from the 17th and 18th are only some of the attractions but the real highlight in my opinion is the unique reconstructions of wood-panelled rooms from houses of Kozani and Siatista (Western Macedonia region). The wood carving and sculpture are just awesome! In the 2nd floor you’ll find a very nice café-restaurant which offers a beautiful view of the city. Since the museum needs at least 2 hours to be explored you could also combine your visit with a launch.Finally, the 3rd floor contains the collection of historical heirlooms that recreate the history of modern Greece from the end of the 18th century onwards. Swords and other weapons which belonged to the heros of 1821, battle standards from the War of Independence and nautical instruments are some of the items displayed. Before you leave check the museum’s shop. You’ll find a great array of exhibits’ replicas,postcards,posters and other souvenirs.
It is the oldest museum in Greece, a "must" for every visitor, one of the best museums of the country. Its collections cover different cultural fields: items from prehistoric, ancient greek and roman period, byzantine icons, ecclesiastic art, paintings, islamic art etc. Great temporary exhibitions are held there too...
This museum saw its start in 1931, when Antoine Benaki turned his family house into a museum and presented it to Greece. It houses a sumptuous and eclectic collection from Europe and Asia, including Bronze Age finds from Mycenae and Thessaly; two early works by El Greco; ecclesiastical furniture brought from Asia Minor by refugees; pottery, copper, silver and woodwork from Egypt, Asia Minor and Mesopotamia; and a stunning collection of Greek regional costumes.
This private museum houses the collection of the Benaki family which runs the gamut from ancient greek and mycenian to modern art. Its all housed in a restored mansion
There are galleries here which have items from the prehistoric to Late Roman period, byzantine period, and the war of independence to the formation of Modern Greece.