Museum of Byzantine Culture, Thessaloniki, Greece
MUSEUM OF BYZANTINE CULTURE
2 Leoforos Stratou
Thessaloniki 546 40 Greece
Telephone +30 231 086 8570
The year 2014 is a landmark as it represents the anniversary of twenty years since the Museum opened its doors for the first time on September 11th 1994 with the exhibition ‘Byzantine Treasures of Thessaloniki. The return journey’. This way the Museum of Byzantine Culture was inaugurated by the Prime Minister. That exhibition with the inspired title marked the return of the Byzantine antiquities, on the 14th of June 1994*, after eighty years in the Byzantine and Christian Museum in Athens where they have been transferred in 1916. The exhibition also marked the end of a long effort for the foundation of a Byzantine Museum in Macedonia and specifically in Thessaloniki which is connected with persons and events of the recent and contemporary history of the Greek state.
Introduction to the permanent exhibition
The eleven rooms that comprise the Museum’s permanent exhibition opened gradually to the public from 1997 to early 2004. In a space of 3.430 square meters aspects of the Byzantine and post-Byzantine culture are presented, through the display of original artifacts, mainly from Thessaloniki, the most important city of the Empire after Constantinople, but also from the wider area of Macedonia. Using an accomplished and imaginative exhibition design, the display is organized into general themes and according to the established periods of Byzantine and post-Byzantine art and history.
From a collection that numbers more than 46.000 artifacts, 3190 were selected for display, namely heirlooms and artworks dated between the 2nd and the 20th centuries. Wall-paintings, mosaics, icons, marble architectural elements, detached Early Christian tombs with their wall-paintings, liturgical vessels, implements for personal adornment, but also humble everyday artifacts and tools for professionals are presented not only as artworks, but also as testimonies of the culture that created them and of the human society that used them. These are framed by information that makes reference to their original environment and function.
Leaving behind the entrance hall, the visitor walks through an internal “path”, which follows a spiral upward direction and ends to the starting point by walking down a staircase. This path unifies the exhibition rooms by providing the visitor with the choice to visit a specific exhibition room without necessarily going through all the other. ‘The quality of the Museum’s interior is characterized by this antithetical relation between route and rooms, enhanced by the different ways in which the materials are used”. The lighting in this route is provided by internal courts and windows, while inside the rooms through openings on their upper parts with sun protection elements.
When entering or exiting the entrance hall of the Museum, the visitor can use a specifically designed digital application in order to be informed about the diverse aspects of everyday life in Byzantium. This was created by the European Center for Byzantine and post-Byzantine Monuments and is perfectly consistent with the exhibition design and the educational character of the Museum.