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Issue 10, November 2008
homepage > The inauguration ceremony of the National Archaeological Museum's Library
The inauguration ceremony
of the National Archaeological Museum's Library
Interior view of the Library from the gallery

The Library of the National Archaeological Museum in Athens was inaugurated on May 26th, 2008, after the project of its renovation and equipping was completed by architect Constantinos Staikos, with an exclusive grant by the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation. The library was officially inaugurated by the Greek Minister of Culture, Mr. Michalis Liapis, who described it as “a real jewel” for the Hellenic culture.

 
 

The Library first opened its doors to the public in 1889, and it is one of the oldest libraries of its kind in Greece. Today, its collections contain approximately 20,000 volumes, including several rare editions, with the oldest titles dating from the 17th century.

The Library’s books cover the fields of Archaeology, History of Art, Ancient Religions, Ancient Greek Philosophy, as well as Ancient Greek and Latin Literature. Amongst its most valuable archival items are the “excavation journals” from the great archaeological excavations conducted in the 19th and early 20th centuries, as well as the original drawings of archaeological finds created by artists who later distinguished themselves as excellent masters of their art.

Left: The use of light-coloured maple wood, glass and abundant light, both natural and artificial, helps create a comfortable working environment<br />
Top: The President of the Onassis Foundation during his speech at the Library’s inauguration ceremony<br />
Bottom: Mr. Anthony Papadimitriou, the Greek Minister of Culture Michalis Liapis, and Dr. Nikos Kaltsas arrive at the Library for the inauguration ceremony
Left: The use of light-coloured maple wood, glass and abundant light, both natural and artificial, helps create a comfortable working environment
Top: The President of the Onassis Foundation during his speech at the Library’s inauguration ceremony
Bottom: Mr. Anthony Papadimitriou, the Greek Minister of Culture Michalis Liapis, and Dr. Nikos Kaltsas arrive at the Library for the inauguration ceremony

As the Greek Minister of Culture said, “it is a very positive fact that the National Archaeological Museum’s Library has been renovated, but it is also exceptionally positive that there are sponsors who support the efforts made by the Ministry of Culture to promote our cultural heritage. I would like to thank the exclusive sponsor, namely the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation, which contributed to the completion of this project. The Library is a real jewel: it contains a large number of books, unique titles and rare editions. The project of its renovation has really been exceptional, and I can only repeat that the sector of Culture is clearly in need of financial support. State resources are not enough to support the development of Culture. Private resources are also needed. For this reason, contributing sponsors offer valuable help. The Library’s renovation makes us feel quite optimistic for the future and, indeed, it encourages us to continue our efforts to promote our cultural heritage.”

Top: Rare book editions are displayed in glass showcases<br />
Bottom:  Architect Constantinos Staikos with Michalis Liapis, Nikos Kaltsas, and Anthony Papadimitriou
Top: Rare book editions are displayed in glass showcases
Bottom: Architect Constantinos Staikos with Michalis Liapis, Nikos Kaltsas, and Anthony Papadimitriou

“The notion of library is a very moving one”, remarked the Onassis Foundation President, Mr. Anthony Papadimitriou. “Indeed, it is an archetype of the Hellenic culture, which was the first to invent this notion. There are various kinds of libraries, amongst which there are celebrated ones such as those of Alexandria and Paris; but libraries like the one of the National Archaeological Museum constitute important research tools and will always be essential. Just as the radio did not cause newspapers to vanish, and just as television did not cause the radio to vanish, so the Internet will not cause books to become extinct,” noted the President of the Onassis Foundation. “Not every book will be electronic. There are countless people who enjoy the feel and smell of books. We wholeheartedly accepted the suggestion put forward by the National Archaeological Museum, not only because the Museum has supported several cultural projects the Onassis Foundation has undertaken, but also because this grant constitutes a tribute to the particular institution, which was renovated on the initiative of the State.” Concluding his speech, Mr. Anthony Papadimitriou thanked architect Constantinos Staikos, in the person of whom, he said, the Onassis Foundation found a “good collaborator.”

The Library is an integral part of the National Archaeological Museum’s history, as well as one of its essential internal organs, said the Director of the Museum, Dr. Nikos Kaltsas. “It remains faithful to both the letter and the spirit of the original Library Regulations (1893), which clearly stated that its aim is educational, and that one of its prime purposes is “to develop love for the Fine Arts.” The Library’s organisation, its wealth and documentation, make it a genuine school for archaeological research. The Library receives a great number of researchers. It contains about 20,000 titles, amongst which there are such rare items as Heinrich Schliemann’s notes on the excavations in Troy and Tiryns, important excavation journals, as well as drawings of several valuable finds. The Museum’s vision was supported by the Onassis Foundation, which eagerly accepted its request for renovation. With due respect to the building’s history, high aesthetic criteria, spacious halls and a very inspiring atmosphere, the Library can now be offered to the scientific community,” concluded Dr. Kaltsas.

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