ATHENS, March 24 (Xinhua) — Greece’s renovated National Gallery in Athens reopened on Wednesday in time for the 200th anniversary of the start of the Greek War of Independence against Ottoman rule, which will be celebrated on Thursday.
Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis accompanied the visiting dignitaries — among them Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, Cyprus’ President Nicos Anastasiades, the United Kingdom Prince of Wales and his wife the Duchess of Cornwall — on a tour of the building ahead of Thursday’s military parade.
The museum’s doors will open to the public later this year.
The museum’s renovation and extension began in 2011, and today the edifice has a floor space of 20,760 square meters.
The project cost 59 million euros (70 million U.S. dollars). Of this, 42 million euros were state funds and 17 million euros were given by private donors, according to the Cultural Ministry’s press release.
In the new National Gallery around 1,000 works of art can be on display simultaneously, instead of 400 in the past.
The gallery’s permanent collection includes some 20,000 works of art.
The National Gallery was officially founded in 1900 with a collection of 258 artworks and initially, it was hosted by the National Technical University of Athens.
The core collection of the gallery dates back to 1829 and was established by Ioannis Kapodistrias, the first governor of the new Greek nation, Mitsotakis recalled in his nationally televised address.
“The founders of the free Greek state realized very early that the arts and sciences are the foundation of a modern European state, in particular when this state has a heritage going back to antiquity,” Marina Lambraki-Plaka, director of the National Gallery, said in her speech.
“The new gallery reaffirms its role as the internationally renowned ‘ark’ of Greek art. At the same time, it highlights the place Greek art holds in European culture,” Mitsotakis said. (1 euro = 1.18 U.S. dollars) Enditem