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EMST OPEN: Athens Welcomes Greece’s New Modern Art Museum

We want the EMST to introduce contemporary art to all…” – Greek Culture Minister Lina Mendoni

The much-awaited National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST) in Athens will open to the public on Friday, February 28, with free admission for the whole month of March.

“This is not just another cultural space in Athens,” Greek Culture Minister Lina Mendoni told journalists during a press conference on Monday.

Housed in a former brewery dating back to the 1950s, the 18,142m2 museum hosts a collection of over 1,000 works of contemporary art, covering areas such as “paintings and 3D objects”, “photography and new media” and “architecture and design”.

Greek Culture Minister Lina Mendoni (center) speaking to journalists during a press conference at the EMST.

“The EMST came to cover a huge absence in Athens; that of a public museum of contemporary art as a living organism of modern culture. Athens was the only European capital without such a museum and this painful absence implied the traumatic relationship of the Greek society with contemporary art,” the minister said.

The museum’s permanent collection showcases 172 works by 78 Greek and foreign artists in three directions: “Memory Reports – Claims – Political Narratives”, “Limits and Crossings” and “Heterotopias – Mythologies of the Home – New Perspectives”.

Danae Stratou – CIT-7 Dividing lines, 2007 – Installation.

“To a large extent, contemporary art remains unknown, incomprehensible and inaccessible to the general public… We want the EMST to introduce contemporary art to all and to play the discerning intermediary in its acquaintance and understanding,” Minister Mendoni added.

The museum

The EMST’s collection includes important works of art by Greek and international artists, such as Jannis Kounellis, Stephen Antonakos, Gary Hill, Vlassis Caniaris, Chryssa, Mona Hatoun, Emily Jacir, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Kim Sooja, Nikos Kessanlis, Shirin Neshat, Lucas Samaras, Costas Tsoclis, Bill Viola, Joseph Kosuth, Pedro Cabrita Reiss, Costas Varotsos, George Lappas, Oliver Ressler, Gulsun Karamustafa, which essentially cover the spectrum of post-war and contemporary artistic creation.

The museum’s activity will be divided between hosting its permanent collection, periodical exhibitions and events.

Vlassis Caniaris – Hopscotch, 1974 – Installation.
Theodoros, sculptor – Anti-Spectacular Theater: Two sculptural one act plays-Elegies of the Homo Faber, 1976.


Makis Faros – Suspect device, 2007.
Jannis Kounellis – Untitled, 2004 – Installation.
Carlos Motta – Graffiti Cuts: Who owns the Street, 2007-2009.

The EMST is expected to officially open in a few weeks, following its trial period of operation. Once the museum is up and running and begins to charge an entrance fee, visitors will be able to book their tickets online.

Moreover, it was announced that a contest for the museum’s café and rooftop restaurant is currently underway. The venues are expected to open in March.

From brewery to museum: a 20-year-old project

The transformation of the old Fix brewery into the EMST museum has been in progress since the establishment of the museum in 2000. The project was delayed on many occasions and the renovation process was complex.

In 2020, 20 years later, the project has been completed.

Mona Hatoum – Fix It, 2004 – Installation.

The Greek state has allocated over 40 million euros since the start of the project, while the Stavros Niarchos Foundation donated 3 million euros in July 2018 for the EMST’s equipment and the implementation of approved studies for the operation of the permanent collection.

EMST Open, EMST as a storyline

At the Contemporary Exhibition Space (-1 level) – under the title EMST Open, EMST as a storyline – the museum’s story since it first started operating is presented. The exhibitions, the activities, the educational programs and the move of the museum from space to space defined the museum until its installation at its permanent home. Curated by Kassiani Benou, the timeline reintroduces the museum’s past that formed its present.

According to the museum’s program, during the next months the exhibition will be framed with parallel events.

The EMST is located on Kallirrois Avenue & Amvr. Frantzi Street in Athens. Access for people with reduced mobility is from the entrance on Syngrou Avenue.

As of February 28 the museum will be open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 11 am until 7pm. The EMST is closed on Mondays.

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About the Author
Nikos is Greek-American born in New York, USA, and has lived in Greece for over 30 years. He is the managing editor of Greece's leading monthly travel and tourism guide, the Greek Travel Pages (GTP) since June 2008 and of news site GTP Headlines since its launch in September 2012. Nikos has also served as international press officer for the City of Athens and for the mayor. He has a degree in Mass Media and Communications, specializing in Journalism. Nikos is a native English speaker and speaks Greek fluently.

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