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sábado, 12 de setembro de 2015

The Benaki Museum ranks among the major institutions that have enriched the material assets of the Greek state.

It is also the oldest museum in Greece operating as a Foundation under Private Law. Through its extensive collections that cover several different cultural fields and its more general range of activities serving more than one social need, the Benaki Museum is perhaps the sole instance of a complex structure within the broader network of museum foundations in Greece.


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Antonis Benakis, scion of one of the leading families of the Greek diaspora, was born in Alexandria in 1873. He was witness to the vibrant tradition of national benefaction which, from the earliest years of Greek independence, was so clearly manifest amongst the Greek communities abroad.

Benakis began his career as a collector in Alexandria, gradually reaching the decision to donate his collections to the Greek state, an idea which became reality after he settled permanently in Athens in 1926.

The world in which Antonis Benakis moved was shaped in a period when the drive to extend the boundaries of the Greek state was as much an element of contemporary society as the parallel ideologies of urban development and enlightenment through education. Benakis' proverbial generosity towards other cultural institutions and undertakings was indicative of this.

His personality was formed within a family environment which nourished such ideals, and which also fostered the exceptional literary talents of his sister, Penelope Delta (1874-1941), whose stories have been familiar to generations of Greek children.

It is certain that Antonis Benakis, the founder of the Benaki Museum, was also influenced by the example of his father Emmanuel Benakis (1843-1929). A close friend and colleague of the great statesman Eleftherios Venizelos (1864-1936), Emmanuel Benakis placed his fortune at the disposal of numerous charitable foundations and likewise contributed to the settlement of refugees in the aftermath of the catastrophe in Asia Minor.

Within this context, the nature of Antonis Benakis’s benefaction becomes self-evident. Its most salient feature remains the fact that during his own lifetime Benakis donated the museum he created to the Greek state. Of equal importance was his continuous involvement, until his death in 1954, in enriching and improving the organisation of the museum’s holdings, and his role in ensuring its financial security.

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From the very first, the life work of Antonis Benakis met with the whole-hearted support of the Greek public. Well-known collectors, as well as all those who wished to see the past preserved, donated precious works of art to the Museum: family heirlooms, rare books, manuscripts and historical archives, and other important private possessions. In this way they helped to supplement the collections and to ensure the future of the Museum.

The individuals who have bequeathed considerable property to the Museum are in the front ranks of its benefactors; they include Konstantinos Benakis, Eleni Efkleidou, Regina Doanidou, Vera Kouloura, Ismini Petropoulou, Lambros Eftaxias, Alexandra Papadopoulou, Maria Aiyialeidi, Eumenis Lambridis, Fifi Stylianidou, Maria Spentsa, Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas Mary Carolou and Georgios Koniaris, Yiannis and Alekos Pappas, Alexandros Argyriou, Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor, as well as the Stamatios Dekozis-Vouros, J.F. Costopoulos and Stavros Niarchos Foundations whose financial support has enabled the Museum to expand its exhibition space considerably.

Among the major donors are Alexandra Choremi, George Eumorphopoulos, Christianos Lambikis, Helen Stathatou, Damianos Kyriazis, Demetrios Sicilianos, Marina Lappa-Diomidous, Argini Salvagou, Rena Andreadi, Loukas Benakis, Voula Papaioannou, Stephen Vagliano, Peggy Zoumboulaki, Elli Seraidari (Nelly’s), Chrysoula Xanthoudidou-Koundourou, Sophia Chrysochoidou-Lambridi, Ioanna Loverdou-Vasileiadi, Litsa Papaspyrou, Maria Argyriadi, and countless others whose names are respectfully recorded on the labels accompanying the exhibits. Substantial benefactions have likewise been received from foundations bearing the names of: Eleftherios Venizelos, Panayotis and Effie Michelis, Alexandros S. Onassis, Lilian Voudouris, A.G. Leventis and and John S. Latsis and from banking institutions such as Citibank, the National, Commercial and Ionian Banks, Ergobank, Alpha Bank and the Midland Bank.

The citing of these names in no way overshadows the contributions of so many other donors who almost daily continue to enrich the Museum in a truly moving manner.

The activities of the "Friends of the Benaki Museum" and of the Committee responsible for the production and marketing of articles sold through the Museum Shop likewise make an important contribution to the support and promotion of the Museum’s work.

fonte: @edisonmariotti #edisonmariotti http://www.benaki.gr/
colaboração: Αφροδίτη Διαμαντοπούλου

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