A tour of the National Gallery’s art

An outward-looking policy that is aimed at bringing as many people as possible to the National Gallery has been a priority from the very start for the institution’s director, Marina Lambraki-Plaka. The director has had a strong public presence and has collaborated with the media repeatedly in order to draw larger numbers. A DVD-guide to the gallery’s collections, which was presented to the press a few days ago, falls within that same policy. It is targeted at adolescents and is primarily meant for use by Greek schools. The DVD, which comes with an illustrated booklet, shows Lambraki-Plaka guiding journalist Lambros Tagmatarchis around selected works in the gallery’s permanent collection. The collection consists of 15,000 works, of which 500 are exhibited. The works that lay in storage in the past because of the venue’s limited space have been put on permanent display under the directorship of Lambraki-Plaka. The guide follows the development of Greek art in chronological order, beginning from the post-Byzantine period right up to the 20th century. The DVD does not offer any sweeping survey of Greek art but isolates specific works to make a more lasting impression on the viewer. The tour begins with a post-Byzantine icon, «Crucifixion» by Andreas Pavias, a painter of the Cretan school, and moves to the three works by El Greco that were purchased with the help of contributions by the Greek public. Paintings from the 19th century and the period of the country’s liberation from the Ottoman Empire are classified in terms of their genre: history paintings, portraiture, genre painting or still-lifes. The project includes four, 25-minute-long sequences and the DVD that is in circulation (and available at the National Gallery) includes the first two, with the rest expected to be presented in the fall. The DVD-booklet kit was published in 5,000 copies, of which half are to be distributed free of charge (by the Cosmote, the project’s sponsor) to school libraries and schools in the Greek provinces. The tour is also to be aired on public television throughout the month of April.