Contemporary art needs a real home

Continual delays in work on the old Fix building, and internal squabbles (between board member Costas Varotsos and director Anna Kafetsi) have tainted the image of the National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST). Visitors don’t care who is responsible for the holdup but they do want to know why the building is still in ruins. The new wing of the Athens Concert Hall, which is temporarily housing the EMST’s activities, is not suited to the purpose. The fancy chandeliers, granite surfaces and scores of guards create an official air that makes one feel awkward just stepping over the threshold. A tour only increases the sense of discomfort. Despite the high quality of most of the exhibitions, there are few visitors. The art-loving public is not that large, but the Concert Hall looks more like a mausoleum than a museum. And it is completely cut off from youth culture. Even the opening was a quiet reception rather than a party for the city, as at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. However interesting and well-curated the EMST’s exhibitions are, the museum must find ways to attract the public, to enliven its activities and unbend a bit to bring in young artists. Charting new artistic potential would be a good start.