The Benaki Museum of Greek Culture is housed in one of the most beautiful neoclassical-style buildings in Athens, near the National Garden and the Hellenic Parliament.
It was converted into a museum in order to shelter the collections of Antonis Benakis and was donated to the Greek nation by himself and his three sisters, Alexandra, Penelope and Argine. Following its most recent refurbishment (1989–2000), the building houses a unique exhibition on Greek culture arranged diachronically from prehistory to the 20th century.
A modest edifice was the original core of the building complex. The first enlargement, including substantial alterations, was designed by Anastasios Metaxas in 1911 after the building was purchased by Emmanuel Benakis, Antonis’s father. Additions included an external staircase and a Doric porch in marble leading up to the Vass. Sofias Ave. entrance front as well as the main façade ornamentations. The next extension was done in 1930 with the aim to convert the building into a museum housing Antonis Benakis’s Greek and Islamic art collections as well as a collection of Chinese ceramics. Further extensions in 1965, 1968 and 1973 proved necessary for accommodating the ever-expanding body of donations. After its 1989–2000 expansion and remodelling, the building houses the Benaki Museum collection of Greek art and material culture, the ‘Spyridon & Eurydice Costopoulos Gallery’ for temporary exhibitions, the Library and various museum operations and offices.
Prehistoric, Ancient Greek and Roman Art
The collection of Prehistoric, Ancient Greek and Roman antiquities which is formed through the contributions of several Greek and foreign donors, as well as from the reserves of other museums, covers a vast chronological period stretching from the dawn of prehistory to the end of the Roman era.
The Byzantine collection links the ancient Greek world to that of modern Greece. The collection is exceptionally rich, although it is not representative of all the different artistic tendencies and currents which flourished during the thousand-year Byzantine Empire, and is divided into two groups.
The first group comprises bronze and silver household and ecclesiastical vessels, miniature sculptures and enamels, ceramics, manuscripts, etc., many of outstanding quality and workmanship.
The second group includes Byzantine and post-Byzantine icons, through which the evolution and development of iconography from the Byzantine period and the Palaeologan renaissance can be traced in the workshops of Crete and the artistic production of Mount Athos, up to the early stages of the modern Greek painterly tradition.
The collection of historical heirlooms recreates the history of modern Greece from the end of the 18th century onwards. Many of the objects in the collection are family heirlooms donated by the descendants and relatives of individuals who are intimately connected with the history of modern Greece.
Post-Byzantine and Neo-Hellenic Art
The collections of ecclesiastical and secular art cover the historical period from the 15th to the 19th century and provide evidence of the high level of culture in the Greek world during the Frankish and Ottoman occupations.
Collections of Paintings, Drawings and Prints
Whilst the nucleus of this collection is made up of works from Antonis Benakis' personal collection, the bulk of it is derived from the donation made by Damianos Kyriazis in 1953, as well as from subsequent gifts and bequests made by many other friends of the Museum. It includes a total of almost 6000 paintings and drawings by mainly European artists of the 17th to 19th centuries, as well as works by Greek artists of the 19th and 20th centuries.
The Library was established in 1931, the year in which the Museum was donated and inaugurated. It has to date gathered more than 100,000 titles of books and periodicals, the content of which is related to the material in the Museum collections and covers the following topics: Greek history and art, folklore, intellectual life and religion, particularly during the period of Turkish rule and modern times. It also has noteworthy collections of books about Islamic art and the art of the Far East.
WednesdayFriday: 10:00 - 18:00
ThursdaySaturday: 10:00 - 00:00
Sunday: 10:00 - 16:00
Holidays: Closed on Monday, Tuesday and the following holidays: March 25th, May 1st, August 15th, October 28th, Christmas Day and Boxing Day, New Year's Day, Epiphany, Easter Day, Easter Monday, Clean Monday, Holy Spirit Day.
Full Admission: € 9
Temporary Exhibition: € 7
Full Admission: € 7
Temporary Exhibition: € 5
Journalists: € 1
Reduced Admission: Students, Persons over 65, Teachers, Archaeologists, Conservators, Members of Hellenic Chamber of Fine Arts
Hellenic Ministry of Culture card holders, European Youth Card holders EYC
Free Admission: Members of Benaki Museum, unemployment Card holders, persons under 22 , for disabled persons, guides, ICOM members, friends of the Benaki Museum
20% discount on the total admission cost of Permanent and Temporary exhibition (Main Building & N. Hadjikyriakos-Ghika Gallery)
20% discount on the total admission cost of the permanent exhibitions on the day of the visit (Pireos St. Annexe)
Ticket “The Benaki Museum Experience” priced at €20 which entitles the visitor to one entrance per exhibition in all the Benaki Museum buildings, valid for 3 months
Buses: 022, 054, 100, 203, 204, 220, 221, 224, 235, 608, 622, 732, 815, Α5, Γ5, Ε14, Ε6
Trolley Buses: 3
Metro: METRO lines 2, 3 (SYNTAGMA & EVAGELISMOS stations)
DISABLED ACCESS: For the Main Exhibition Building, visitors on wheelchair or with baby strollers can use the entrance on Vas. Sofias avenue.
Address: 1 Koumbari St. & Vas. Sofias Ave., 106 74 Athens