The reopening of the Athens Municipal Gallery on Koumoundourou Square, one of the city center’s more neglected corners, was one of the greatest cultural events of the past few months even though it received little publicity.
The relaunch also saw the opening of “Athens: 180 Years as Capital of the Greek State,” a fascinating exhibition of more than 100 sculptures, etchings and paintings from the 19th and 20th century showcasing the city’s history and its transformation into a metropolis. It has also breathed new life into a wonderful old building after five years.
The Koumoundourou gallery is where temporary exhibitions will be held as the municipality’s permanent art collection is on display at the Gallery’s now main building, the Kantakouzinou Mansion in Metaxourgeio (Leonidou & Myllerou streets), designed by Christian Hansen. Its relaunch was one of the key goals of Nelly Papachela, currently chair of the Municipal Council and formerly president of the authority’s cultural organization.
“I wanted a new lease of life to be given to the building and by extension to Koumoundourou Square,” Papachela tells Kathimerini. “We repaired the roof, which was collapsing, after the usual bureaucratic adventures, so that we could hold this important exhibition.”
The curators of the exhibition are Yiannis Kolokotronis and Kalli Petrocheilou, who have approached the subject feeling for the building’s sense of history. Sure, the former state orphanage still needs plenty of repairs, but there is something quite warmly old-fashioned and serene about it.
Athens Municipal Gallery, 51 Pireos, tel 210.520.2420. Admission is free of charge. Opening hours are Mondays & Wednesdays-Saturdays 10 a.m. – 7 p.m., Sundays 10 a.m – 3 p.m. Closed Tuesdays. The exhibition runs to September 30.