Celebrating the unique culture of Thrace

When Angeliki Giannakidou settled in Alexandroupolis in 1967, she got to know the Thracian hinterland. She found that the so-called traditional life was still a reality for people in outlying villages. She was moved, not just by the heirlooms and items in everyday use, but also by narratives, memories, sounds, lullabies, songs and laments. From molds for tools, to embroidery, to festivals, houses and clothes she encountered every aspect of a culture that covered a large area of which Alexandroupolis was the growing center. After years of collecting material and struggling to find the right building, Giannakidou succeeded in setting up the Ethnological Museum of Thrace in a neoclassical building dating from 1899. The museum, which opened four years ago, has won admiration for the way it operates, its constantly expanding collections (Giannakidou continues to record sounds and images), and the way it manages to survive. It is a self-funded, private, non-profit museum that took a gamble in a country that expects everything from the government. The gamble seems to be paying off, despite basic problems that come as no surprise – a shortage of funds and staff. «Education is a fundamental aspect of the museum,» Giannakidou told Kathimerini, responding to questions about the aims of this innovative museum in northern Greece.

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