Thessaloniki State Museum of Modern Art

Εξωτερική-άποψη-της-Μονής-ΛαζαριστώνThe Thessaloniki State Museum of Modern Art (Greek: Κρατικό Μουσείο Σύγχρονης Τέχνης) is a state museum based in Thessaloniki, Central Macedonia, Greece. It was founded in 1997, at the occasion of Thessaloniki’s year as European Capital of Culture. It is housed in the renovated building of the old Lazariston Monastery in the Borough of Stavroupoli in west Thessaloniki. The museum was established by a law passed in the Greek Parliament by then Greek Minister of Culture, Evangelos Venizelos. Its initial collection was formed by a large part of the famous Costakis Collection, acquired by the Greek state. It contains around 1,275 works of Russian avant-garde art consisting of paintings, sculptures, drawings and constructions. The first director of the SMCA was the Aristotle University Professor Miltiadis Papanikolaou, who remained in the position until 2006. Dr. Maria Tsantsanoglou, a specialist in the Russian Avant-Garde period, was appointed the next director of the State Museum of Contemporary Art.

The museum’s founding mission is to preserve and display works of contemporary art by Greek and foreign artists, to improve the public’s aesthetic appreciation and art education, to develop scientific research into issues surrounding the history and theory of contemporary art, as well as to assist art historians and theoreticians who wish to specialize in museology.

As well as maintaining its permanent collection, the museum organizes periodic exhibitions. However, the pride and joy of the State Museum of Contemporary Art is the works in the Kostaki collection, which was bought by the Greek State on 31 March 2000 for 14,200,000,000 drachmas. This collection consists of 1,275 works of art (oil paintings, constructions, drawings etc.) The works are by well-known, avant-garde Russian artists like K. Malevich, V. Tatlin, V. Kandinsky, El. Lissitzky, and L. Popova, among others. The West became familiar with the Kostaki collection through exhibitions in Düsseldorf, New York and Athens.

There are over a hundred works of art on display in the permanent exhibition, they are the pride of the collection and are by artists such as K. Malevich, V. Tatlin, V. Kandinsky, El. Lissitsky, L. Popova, O. Rozanova, N. Udaltsova, A. Rodchenko, S. Nikritin, I. Kliun, G. Klutsis, I. Chashnik, K. Ender, A. Drevin, I. Kudriashev, A. Sofronova, and K. Vialov. They are the best works in the collection and refer to important personages, avant-garde movements and artistic tendencies.

The museum’s permanent collection also contains two hundred works of art, paintings and sculptures, which were donated by the Cultural Capital 1997 Organization, and significant pieces of work donated to the museum by their artists themselves. Notable among them are ‘The Chapel of the Heavenly Stairway’ by Stylianos Antonakos, ‘Gridlock’ by Chris Giannakos and ‘Group of Four Faces’ by Joannis Avramidis, all Greek artists of the diaspora.

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