Issue 07, January 2008
homepage > Renovation and equipping of the Library of the National Archaeological Museum

Renovation and equipping of the Library
of the National Archaeological Museum

Drawing of architect Constantine Staikos of the proposed renovation. A new second level is added to the library.

Thanks to a subsidy provided by the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation, the Library of the National Archaeological Museum of Greece, the country’s richest and largest archaeological library, will have been renovated by the end of the year, ready to receive again both scholars and the general public.

 

The Onassis Foundation’s Board of Directors, within the framework of its public benefit activities in the area of culture, resolved to offer €200,000 for the renovation and equipping of the Library, which started operating in 1893.
This new initiative of the Onassis Foundation was officially announced on July 9, 2007, at a press conference given by the Foundation’s President, Mr. Anthony Papadimitriou, the Museum’s Director, Dr. Nikos Kaltsas, the Greek Minister of Culture, Mr. Giorgos Voulgarakis, and the project’s architect, Mr. Constantinos S. Staikos, who is responsible both for designing and carrying out the project.  

The National Archaeological Museum of Athens
The National Archaeological Museum of Athens

As Nikos Kaltsas explained, the Library is one of the oldest institutions of its kind in Greece. Its creation started in the 19th century, along with that of the National Archaeological Museum itself, which first opened its doors to the public in 1889. Today, the Library’s collections contain about 20,000 volumes, including several extremely rare editions. The oldest titles date from the 17th century and include such works as Hesychius’ celebrated journals, as well as important archive material.
The Library’s books principally cover the subject fields of Archaeology, History, Art, Ancient Religions, Ancient Greek Philosophy, as well as Ancient Greek and Latin Literature. Amongst the Library’s most valuable archival items are the ‘excavation journals’ from the great archaeological excavations conducted in the 19th and late 20th centuries, as well as the original drawings of archaeological finds created by artists who later distinguished themselves as excellent masters of their art.

Drawing of architect Constantine Staikos of the proposed arrangement of the library. Openings for day light and the balcony can be seen.
Drawing of architect Constantine Staikos of the proposed arrangement of the library. Openings for day light and the balcony can be seen.

Drawing of architect Constantine Staikos of the proposed arrangement of the library. Openings for day light and the balcony can be seen.
Drawing of architect Constantine Staikos of the proposed arrangement of the library. Openings for day light and the balcony can be seen.
Drawing of architect Constantine Staikos of the proposed arrangement of the library. Openings for day light and the balcony can be seen.
Drawing of architect Constantine Staikos of the proposed arrangement of the library. Openings for day light and the balcony can be seen.
Every year, thousands of researchers, scientists and students visit the Library to consult its resources. The Library’s renovation will certainly facilitate the work of both its visitors and its employees, and will contribute to the organisation, documentation and enrichment of its archive.

The project’s architect, Constantinos S. Staikos, whose design has been fully approved by the Museum’s Director, described the Onassis Foundation’s initiative to support the renovation project as ‘an offering to the altar of everyone’s cultural pursuits’. Launched in September 2007, the project is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

The project’s funding by the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation is part of a wider collaboration between the Foundation and the National Archaeological Museum. A recent example of this collaboration was the highly successful exhibition ‘Athens-Sparta: From the 8th to the 5th century BC’ held last year at the Onassis Cultural Center in New York.
In grateful recognition of the support offered, the National Archaeological Museum of Greece decided to name the renovated premises ‘Alexander S. Onassis Library’.

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Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation | Tel. +30 210 3713000 | Fax. +30 210 3713013 | Email: pubrel@onassis.gr