Greece’s Most Important Art Gallery: The National Gallery of Art
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The National Gallery of Art in Athens is considered to be Greece’s most important art gallery. It displays the greatest works of Greek artists in addition to a collection of European art spanning four centuries from the post-Byzantine period until today. It is housed in a modern, restored Neoclassical low-rise mansion and features both temporary and permanent exhibits in small, manageable collections that are arranged thematically. It comprises more than 20,000 works of painting, sculpture, engraving and other forms of art.
The role of the National Gallery is to “collect, safe-keep, preserve, study and exhibit works of art towards the aesthetic training of the public, the on-going education through art and the recreation that it is able to provide, as well as the self-awareness of the Greek people through the history of art, which expresses the national history on a symbolic level.”
The ground floor stages traveling exhibitions and opens out onto a sculpture garden. The first floor houses masterpieces by El Greco (true name, Domenikos Theotokopoulos), the highlight of the collection. El Greco spent time in Candia, Venice, Rome, and Spain and fused Byzantium, the Renaissance and Mannerism into his own original and unique style. He always signed his works in Greek, using Byzantine characters. The first floor is also devoted to a minor collection of non-Greek, European art. The second floor is a changing display of Greek modern art from the 18th to 20th centuries. The 19th century is represented mainly by romantic paintings stemming from the Greek War of Independence. Leading 20th century artists are featured here including Parthenis, Moralis, Maleas and Lytras.
The museum is tourist-friendly as English descriptions explain the historical foundations for each piece of art. Visitors can get a closer look at the history of Modern Greek art by taking advantage of the multimedia guides, including PDAs, interactive kiosks and projections in purpose-built facilities that are available at the National Gallery.
Expert-guided tours are offered to the permanent display and temporary exhibitions, mainly addressed to primary- and secondary-education students, university students and other groups. Tours for primary-education students end up at the “Children’s Workshop”. Through games, free choice and teamwork, children become familiar with colors and drawing; they paint and make constructions with a variety of materials.
A related sculpture collection is located 8km southeast of the National Gallery of Art at the National Sculpture Gallery.
This post was written by GreekBoston.com