State-of-the-art new wing for exhibition space in Salonica

Thessaloniki’s Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art is turning into a state-of-the-art cultural center thanks to a new wing which will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Saturday. The new extension adds 2,600 square meters to the existing space of 1,500 square meters, and provides the opportunity for the museum to house its fruitful 23-year history in a comprehensive space based on an impressive architectural design. This is the museum’s second expansion, following one which was carried out in 1997 and financed when Thessaloniki was a Cultural Capital of Europe that year. This latest expansion was completed in a year and a half and financed by the European Investment Bank, and the Greek ministries of Finance and Culture. This new extension of the museum provides a contemporary technological infrastructure, including exhibition and storage areas, working premises for artists, a multiple-use amphitheater, a hall for video projections, a library, an archive center, a cafeteria and a museum shop. All of the above, of course, complemented by the human factor, as the museum’s staff includes museologists and art historians. The upcoming opening ceremonies of the new wing provided the museum with a chance to cast a retrospective look at its history by organizing two exhibitions: a tribute to celebrated art collector Alexandros Iolas – who donated the 44 works which were the initial foundation for the museum’s establishment – accompanied by documents demonstrating the museum’s development. In a second exhibition held in the new wing itself – its entrance adorned with a donation from artist Stephen Andonakos – 11 panels will illustrate the museum’s history. This includes a photographic panorama, complete with footnotes, of the various shows and events organized by the museum during its first 23 years. This chronological history highlights the museum’s interests beginning with its first exhibition, a retrospective of the artist Theophilos at the Archaeological Museum in 1979, up through the recent shows of Greek and foreign artists, including such events as the retrospectives on artists Yiannis Tsarouchis, Alekos Fasianos, Nikos Kessanlis, Pavlos and many more. The basis for the inauguration of the museum were the 44 works donated to the museum by Iolas, thanks to Maro Lagia. The works were exhibited for the first time at the Filkeram Johnson premises in 1984 and included paintings, sculptures and other works by artists such as a Niki de Saint Phalle, Costas Tsoklis, Takis and Opy Zouni, among others. Today the collection is showcased on the three floors of its first refurbishment. Building on the initial offerings by Iolas, the museum’s collection today comprises 1,300 works of art, including paintings, sculptures, video art and many other works by Greek and foreign artists, many donated by Alexander and Dorothea Xydi, Apergis, and Nikos Sahinis. The collection also includes 400 engravings by European, American and Greek artists as well as more than 300 photographs by Greek and European photographers stemming from their collaboration with the Photographic Synkyria, an annual photographic event which takes place in Thessaloniki. Coinciding with the opening of its larger premises this Saturday, the museum is also inaugurating a third exhibition, a retrospective show on the works of renowned German photographer Herbert List (1903-1975). Under the general title «The Magic Look,» the exhibition is part of this year’s 37th Dimitria Festival events. The show includes 220 original works divided into five themes, reflecting the development of the photographer’s art as well as the development of German photography from the «New Reality» to photojournalism. Moving between Hamburg, Central and South America as well as Paris, London and Greece, List orchestrated shoots inspired by ancient Greek mythology as well as photographing Munich’s devastated architecture at the end of World War II. The exhibition will run to October 27.