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Thematic Museum series expands in Volos April 3, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Museums.
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Early 20th century ceramic materials factory now a showcase

volos_museum.jpg  An old ceramic materials factory becomes a Volos flagship.

Right up until the late 19th century, facilities producing ceramic construction materials operated as family businesses. They relied on abundant reserves of raw materials located nearby and sold their produce regionally. The sector’s first steps into the industrial era were taken during the last two decades of the 19th century with the establishment of two sizable facilities, the Dilaveri Ceramics Company in Piraeus and Industrial and Commercial SA in Thessaloniki.

The sector took off in the 1920s when numerous facilities in urban centers, both large and small, such as that of the Tsalapata Brothers in Volos, northern Greece, turned to steam for fuel.

The Volos facility, which was founded in 1926 and developed into a flagship firm for the provincial city, went through various phases. There were two rounds of modernization, and a bumper period during which the company, once equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, employed 250 persons. The Volos unit’s product line included Marsailles-type roof tiles, as well as a Greek version commonly known as the Byzantine roof tile, and clay pipes. The Tsalapata brand name was synonymous with quality. At its peak, the Volos facility’s production reached 9 million units per year.

The sector’s gradual demise began with the arrival of cement in the building sector. The renowned Volos factory survived until the mid-70s before being forced to halt all activity. But the production facility and its equipment remained and, in 1995, the defunct factory was added to the country’s cultural heritage list. Around this time, it was purchased by the Municipality of Volos with the intention of turning the unit into a cultural center focused on the industrial and handcrafted traditions. Work toward the building’s new use began three years later and was completed in 2001. Moreover, not long after, the Piraeus Bank Group’s Cultural Foundation (PIOP) took on the development of a Museum showcasing examples of the facility’s old ceramic construction items.

Athenian guests who attended last Saturday’s grand opening, launched by Greek President Karolos Papoulias, were impressed by the results. It wasn’t just the Museum but all its peripheral features, such as a cafe, restaurants and shops, that added considerably to the project’s good impression.

This is the fifth addition to the Piraeus Bank Group Cultural Foundation’s series of thematic museums at former production facilities. Others include a silk Museum in Soufli, northern Greece, and an olive and olive oil Museum in Sparta, in the country’s south.

The preservation, documentation and exhibition of traditional production methods is one of the foundation’s basic policies, as has been underlined by its President, Sophia Staikou, on numerous occasions. At the Volos facility’s opening, Staikou spoke of the difficulties encountered by PIOP for this latest endeavor, while also noting the series’s “contribution to regional development.”

Visitors to the converted Volos factory get to see details of production techniques. This impressive Museum, a project budgeted at 2.7 million euros, serves as a “good example,” as was noted by Culture Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis during his speech at the opening. Other PIOP projects in the pipeline include a Museum on marble working on the island of Tinos, which is scheduled for a September opening, if all goes according to plan.

The Rooftile and Brickworks Museum, N. & S. Tsalapatas
South Gate, Volos, Tel: 24210 29844

Related Links > http://www.piop.gr

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