LIFE

Athens museums – a haven in a holiday heat wave

On the August 15 public holiday, a major feast day in the Greek Orthodox calendar marking the Dormition of the Virgin, Athens may be a bit empty and many restaurants and cafes will be closed, but some museums will be staying open for locals and tourists. In fact it might be the perfect day to go to one, as you can be all but certain that you'll have peace and quiet while not having to queue (for too long anyway).

The Byzantine Museum (www.byzantinemuseum.gr), for example, is often described as an underappreciated treasure. It will be open on August 15, keeping to its usual daily operating hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. In addition to its impressive permanent collections, the museum is currently showcasing an outdoor installation by artist Kalliopi Lemos focusing on the human struggle through life, an exhibition of 14 artworks by the late Dimitris Kontos, as well as “Omilouses Eikones” (Talking Icons), and a display of 16th-19th century religious paintings from Russia and the Balkans.

The Numismatic Museum (www.nma.gr), which possesses one of the greatest collections of coins, ancient and modern, in the world, will also be open on the day, as will the National Archaeological Museum, where visitors can admire some of the most important artifacts unearthed around Greece (www.namuseum.gr).

While they may not be open this Friday, other museums worth a visit during the lethargic month of August in Athens include the Museum of Cycladic Art (www.cycladic.gr), currently hosting “History Zero,” a video by Stefanos Tsivopoulos which represented Greece at the 2013 Venice Biennale, to the end of September, and the Benaki Museum's (www.benaki.gr) headquarters in Kolonaki, which is presenting “Notes on Oriental Tobacco,” a fascinating exhibition about the history of the multifaceted commercial product in Greece, running to August 31.

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