Benaki Museum plans artwork auction as revenues plunge during the pandemic

Benaki Museum plans artwork auction as revenues plunge during the pandemic

The prominent Benaki Museum in Athens is fighting for its survival as the four months of closure imposed as part of the measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic in Greece had led to a monthly loss of revenue totalling about 400,000 euros.

According to the museum’s director of resources and development, Nikos Trivoulidis, if nothing changes in December, Benaki will lose a total of about 2 million euros in revenues.

“In this sense, like many other sectors of society, yes, we have a problem. We are facing this emergency,” he said. “If this continues for a long time, there is a big risk.”

The state contributes to the museum budget by 20% -25%, which can reach 30% with some emergency grants. The rest, however, comes from the activity of the museum – its shop, the sale of tickets, sponsorship activities – which, due to the pandemic, have suffered a massive decline.

As a result, the museum’s financial reform program has been derailed and one third of its employees have had their employment contracts suspended.

To respond to the crisis, the museum's annual fundraising campaign will not aim to support a specific action but the operation of the museum itself.

“Conditions are critical,” the museum's president, Irini Geroulanou, said.

Trivoulidis categorically rejected the auction of exhibits from the museum collection, as foreign museums did to raise funds, but has accepted the idea of an auction.

Benaki will hold from 30 November until 7 December, a large online auction on its website with works by artists who have exhibited in the museum and by creators who collaborate with its popular shop.

More than 150 artists responded to the museum’s invitation to submit their work, thus managing to gather more than 260 items, such as paintings, sculptures and photographs. 

The items cover a wide range of prices, from 50 to 50,000 euros, so that the the general public can participate in the auction.

For more information on the auction and to participate, click here.

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