Jewish Heritage Report
Vol. I, Nos. 3-4 / Winter 1997-98
Jewish Museum of Greece / New Home
Jewish Museum of Greece Prepares for New Home
by Esther Goldman
The Jews of Greece are fortunate that Nikos Stavroulakis had the wisdom and foresight to initiate the concept of a museum and to begin to amass a very impressive and important collection. The museum's site for the past 20 years has been at Amelia Street in Athens. The premises were inadequate to house the entire collection, however, and the Museum's Board decided to move to a larger building.
A major fundraising drive that had the support of the Greek government enabled the museum to purchase a neo-classical building and to completely renovate it for its use. This past autumn, the museum was busy transferring its holdings to its new building around the corner at 19 Nikis Street.
There are six levels to the new museum. Each will exhibit a different aspect of the collection. The entrance is on the second level which will also contain a gift shop selling museum reproductions, publications, and Judaica otherwise unavailable in Athens. The exhibitions at the old museum began with an introduction to the history of Jewish settlements in Greece. This will be installed in the new museum, and will illustrate the festivals and the ritual objects associated with the communities. The lowest level will house the remnants of the furnishings from the Patras synagogue which were salvaged by Stavroulakis when that building was demolished. They had been displayed in a larger setting in the old museum - allowing the visitor to visualize the original synagogue's layout.
The remaining levels will be divided between the historical display, a history of the Holocaust, the costume collection, and other highlights. There will be computer kiosks at different points of the building for interactive videos which will provide further information. The top floor is for the library and offices. Even though the museum is housed in a small building, maximum use of the space has been achieved by spiraling the display floors around a central light-filled atrium. The museum has an elevator and is wheelchair accessible. The opening of the museum is scheduled for Spring, 1998.
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