CULTURE

Success at the National Gallery

The success of the exhibit «In the Light of Apollo: The Italian Renaissance and Greece» at the National Gallery recently went beyond all expectations. The show, which closed its doors on April 19, drew 373,075 visitors – including schoolchildren on cultural excursions. It’s worth noting that the National Gallery’s «From Theotokopoulos to Cezanne» and «El Greco» shows drew 600,000 and 618,000 visitors respectively. Great hit «Prior to the exhibition’s opening, my collaborators and I had estimated that even 300,000 visitors would have been a highly satisfying figure,» said Marina Lambraki-Plaka, the National Gallery’s director, to Kathimerini. «The final outcome was better than what we had hoped for. This is a great success for the gallery considering that the exhibition coincided with the pre-election period, bad weather, bank holidays and the holiday season. In the last few days alone, we had up to 5,000 or 6,000 people.» The National Gallery’s director did not hesitate billing the exhibition as the most pivotal since her appointment to the museum’s helm. «Though the El Greco show was very demanding on the part of the organizers, it cannot be compared to ‘Apollo,’ where we gathered 500 items from 160 foreign museums, illustrating the idea of dialogue between the Italian Renaissance and Ancient Greece,» said Lambraki-Plaka. «Preparations for the exhibition lasted for four years. We did a lot of thinking and faced a number of difficulties.» «The exhibition became a kind of lesson for us all. The most important aspect being that Greeks realized that it was their culture that provided the ingredients for the Renaissance spirit,» said Plaka, adding: «If I were to mount the exhibition all over again, I would make sure to install better lighting in the cases, given that quite a few visitors complained. Mass attendance also caused congestion during the last few days, but we had to get people into the museum. Perhaps abroad, visitors would have queued longer.» The National Gallery is marching ahead with a variety of events, including the opening of a Nafplion branch on May 8, an exhibition featuring treasures of imperial China on May 24, as well as a much-anticipated show to feature works by six sculptors – the show’s financial difficulties having been eliminated thanks to CosmOTE’s sponsorship. The same is true of the Henry Moore retrospective at the Sculpture Gallery, following an agreement between Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis and Evgenios Giannakopoulos, the Cultural Olympiad’s former director.