The Rhodes Museum of Modern Greek Art’s recent relaunch has put the spotlight on what is arguably one of the best collections of its kind in the country. With a new management and a new exhibition (which can only be viewed online for the time being), the institution is seeking to fulfill the role it deserves as a national attraction. While lofty, it is a realistic ambition, thanks to the quality and breadth of the collection that does indeed make this one of the most important galleries in Greece.
The museum’s new identity has been launched with the exhibition “Biography.”
“The objective was to reintroduce the collection while aiming at younger generations,” says art historian George Mylonas, who curated the show. “It is not an anthology of art, but a deliberate bringing together of pieces that are centered on the face, an attempt at a fresh osmosis.”
The Rhodes Museum of Modern Greek Art is owned by the southeastern Aegean island’s municipal authority and is housed in the Nestorideion Mansion – its secondary location – in the Medieval Town, due to restoration work that is being carried out on its regular home at the Municipal Gallery.
When the museum opens, visitors will be able to see the permanent collection in a refreshing new light, as well as temporary exhibitions.
“The opening of the Municipal Gallery was a reflection of its founder’s vision,” says Soumela Karachaliou, president of the museum’s board, referring to Andreas Ioannou (1918-1972), who was the regional governor of the Dodecanese islands from 1960 to 1964.
“Thanks to his position, Andreas Ioannou was able to get works of art that had been purchased by the Ministry of Education at the Panhellenic Shows held at Zappeio Hall – and he got a lot of real gems,” she adds.
The aim was to build a collection that could hold its own on a national and even international level, a policy that was continued by Ioannou’s successors at the Municipal Gallery.
In “Biography,” Mylonas and Markos Kampanis, who helped to set up the show, present an unorthodox display of some 50 paintings, engravings and sculptures on the human form. “The exhibition is not set out chronologically. It is a new museological approach that casts Yannis Moralis’ ‘Young Woman’ beside Nikos Engonopoulos’ ‘Orpheus,’ and Yannis Tsarouchis beside Tassos Pavlopoulos,” says the curator.
“By exploring the forms of these faces, the exhibition traces the evolution of domestic art from Theophilos to Makis Theofylaktopoulos, in a bold discussion,” explains Mylonas.
Apart from serving as a fantastic introduction to the museum’s collection, it is also a mind-expanding show. “The younger generation is our target,” says Karachaliou. “We’re going to reach out to schools and we are going to rediscover Rhodes’ art-loving public, which may know of the museum’s existence but needs to be reminded of it.”
For more about the museum and to view its ongoing exhibition, visit www.mgamuseum.gr.