CULTURE

Old olive mill’s new lease on life

The Museum of Industrial Oil Production on the northern Aegean island of Lesvos is the fourth such achievement by the Piraeus Bank Group Cultural Foundation, which has launched a network of museums focusing on technology and industry. The network’s projects kicked off with the Silk Museum in Soufli and then continued with the Water Power Museum in Dimitsana and Sparta’s Olive Museum. The Lesvos museum was recently inaugurated by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias. The ambitious program has more museum openings on its agenda: The Brick and Tile Factory in Volos is scheduled to open at the end of the month; the Marble Work Museum in Tinos’s Pirgos is to open in December, while the Museum of Traditional Trades, at Lake Stymfalia, is expected to open early next year. The Museum of Industrial Oil Production is situated on a 5-hectare site in Lesvos’s Aghia Paraskevi. It is based in the old community olive mill, which was built in 1910 with the help of both locals and those who had left the island to go abroad. What is interesting is that the old mill functioned on genuine community spirit, with the participation of all the locals, who joined forces to promote their common interests. According to Aspasia Louvi, general director of the Piraeus Group Cultural Foundation, a law existed in Lesvos which stated that all the so-called tagarelaia – meaning the oil that remained in the mill – had to be used for the common interest. The profits made from this community mill were used to finance many other projects, such as the building of the local primary school, which is the region’s pride and joy. The olive mill stopped operating during the Giorgos Papadopoulos dictatorship (1967-73), but those wishing to pay a visit now (admission costs 3 euros, 1.50 euros for those entitled to a discount) will find all the old equipment. Louvi explained that all the machines, which include pumps, presses and much more, as well as the building’s architectural details, have been restored to their original form. The museum also features the bates, storage rooms that anyone could rent after paying a small sum, for his yearly crop. These rooms now host all the material regarding the cultivation of olives and related activities (such as the commercial aspect), as well as the olive mill’s archives, which provided an incredible amount of information. The Museum of Industrial Oil Production on Lesvos is equipped with a hall that can be used for a number of different purposes, a multimedia venue, a cafe and even a small amphitheater where events can be held.