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The chronicle of an extension October 21, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Greece, Arts Museums.
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national_gallery1.jpg  A view of the National Gallery, on the corner of Vasilissis Sofias and Vasileos Constantinou Avenues, as proposed in the preliminary study.

national_gallery2.jpg  The National Gallery as it is today. The long, narrow two-story rectangle of the main gallery and the single-story cube of the Alexandros Soutzos Museum that thousands of Athenians pass every day on Vasileos Constantinou Avenue is what remains of the original study by Pavlos Mylonas (1904-20005) and Dimitris Fatouros.

Popular legend has it that the former management of the neighboring Hilton Hotel was instrumental in reducing the height of the National Gallery. True or not, what matters is that the third and fourth floors were never built. The new building was inaugurated in 1976, but within the space of 20-25 years it was already too small.

Gallery Director Marina Lambraki-Plaka exerted systematic pressure on the Culture Ministers of successive governments to get work started on extending the building above and below ground, which would yield an extra 6,000 square meters. At long last in May, Giorgos Voulgarakis, the Culture Minister of the day, announced that the gallery extension was to be included in CSF IV with a budget of 30 million euros.

The final study is being drafted by the architecture firm of Constantinos Mylonas, the son of the late Pavlos Mylonas, and Dimitris Fatouros, who undertook to update the original 1970 study.

The preliminary study, already approved by the Central Council of Modern Monuments, adds two new basements and a spiral staircase on the Vasileos Constantinou Avenue side. The gallery will acquire new exhibition spaces, an amphitheater, a decent shop and modern storerooms. Work is unlikely to begin before 2010 and is expected to take two-and-a-half years.

The National Art Gallery and Alexandros Soutzos Museum, the most important institution in Greece devoted to the subject of the history of Greek and Western European art, has been in operation, in its present form, since 1976. The actual founding of the institution dates back to 1900, when the relevant decree was published and the duties of curator were undertaken by George Iakovides (1900-1918). Already, however, in 1834, within the framework of the new social organization, on Western European lines, of the newly-born Greek state, the decree “On Technological Collections” provided for the founding, in Athens, of a Museum of paintings and engravings.

Related Links > http://www.nationalgallery.gr/default_en.htm

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