CULTURE

National Gallery acquires new premises for sculpture collection

The National Gallery will soon acquire a separate, expansive sculpture venue, located at the Army Park, just a few steps away from the Ministry of Public Order in the area of Goudi. The outcome of long negotiations between the Greek ministries of Defense and Culture, the new venue meets the National Gallery’s pressing need for space to show its sculpture collection, a rough total of 1,000 sculptures, most of them now in storage or crammed into the small outdoor space of the museum’s premises on Vassileos Constantinou Avenue. The National’s sculpture collection will be housed at two listed buildings (former stables) which the army has handed over to the National Gallery and Ministry of Culture on a 25-year loan at an annual fee of roughly 70 million drachmas (205,000 euros). Both are one-level, perpendicular and roof-tiled buildings with an overall 3,000-square-foot capacity. The space will be divided between the permanent collection and temporary sculpture exhibitions. An adjacent, open area of around 7 acres will also serve as an exhibition space. The Ministry of Defense has already completed an initial renovation of the buildings, which were presented in a press conference with an exhibition of large sculptures by Thodoros Papayiannis mounted especially for the occasion. Total renovation costs amount to 1.5 billion drachmas (4.4 million euros), funded by the Ministry of Culture and the European Community. The architectural redesign study of the buildings has already been completed (on a subsidy by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation) by the appointed team of architects. Providing the buildings with heating and air-conditioning facilities occupies a large part of the works. The existing windows will be sealed with panels that will let the light stream in while the two buildings will be connected with a roofed ramp. Works will be completed by the spring of 2004 and the museum’s sculpture galleries will open to the public with two large exhibitions organized in cooperation with the Cultural Olympiad: a retrospective on Henry Moore and an exhibition on the wood relief-sculpture of Christos Capralos, a combination which is probably ascribed to the affinities that the work of the two artists are thought to share. The permanent sculpture collection will move to the new premises once the Moore and Capralos exhibitions close in October 2004.