Dysfunctionality of state-run institutions plagues National Gallery

Nobody can deny that in the 16 years that Marina Lambraki-Plaka has been at the helm, the National Gallery has created a popular image. Some of its exhibitions have attracted record numbers of visitors («From El Greco to Cezanne,» «El Greco: Identity and Transformation,» «Six Sculptors Converse with Man-kind»). Yet the gallery is still in the thrall of things that plague all state-run institutions: rigid opening hours (it only opens in the afternoon on Monday and Wednesday, for example), absence of long-term planning for exhibitions (for lack of funds among other reasons), a dysfunctional press office (if the person in charge is absent, journalists can’t get information), and the public servant mentality of the staff. The cafe has not managed to attract people and the little sales point is pitiful. The greatest challenge facing the gallery in the future is to develop into a flexible organization through a complete overhaul of its activities and the staff’s attitude. Above all there has to be a serious endeavor to find a new location in the center of Athens (as former museum board member, Athens Academy member and painter Panayiotis Tetsis suggested in an article in Kathimerini). Otherwise, the gallery is at risk of losing visitors and also missing out on valuable collections, as recently illustrated with the collections of paintings by Spyros Papaloukas, which went to the B&M Theocharakis Foundation for the Fine Arts and Music.