New Multi-Cultural Center in Athens to Showcase Textile Screen Printing Art
A new multi-cultural space focused on the traditional art of textile screen printing will be housed at the old Hellenic Scarves Handicraft (BEM) factory in Metaxourgio, Athens, the Culture Ministry recently announced.
Following the approval of its restoration plan by the Contemporary Monuments Central Council, the old factory building will be restored to become a museum and cultural center, featuring a permanent exhibition, archive space, administrative offices, craft workshops, and other multi-purpose spaces.
The restoration process of the BEM building began in January 2021 with the cleaning of the building, the recording of its archival wealth, as well as an investigation of possible collaborations with other institutions in Greece, that would support its newfound character and goal.
“The BEM building restoration is on track so that it can become an invaluable branch of the Museum of Greek Folk Art and its new facilities in Monastiraki,” said Culture Minister Lina Mendoni.
The minister added that the space, when fully operational, will contribute to the revival of the traditional screen printing and dyeing techniques as well as to the upgrade of its surrounding area.
The approved architectural plan for the BEM building preserves its original features and highlights its character, with minimal functional interventions.
Wing A, with an area of 292 square meters, will feature an exhibition space about the history of the traditional screen printing and dyeing art. Wing B, with a total area of 608 square meters, will feature scarf and textile – making workshops, periodical exhibitions, a shop, a foyer, a reception, a multi-purpose room for screenings and events, as well as other spaces designated for dining and recreational activities.
The BEM building, built around 1900, was once the printing and dyeing workshop of the Oikonomopoulos Brothers and is considered a historical monument, along with its equipment and other movable machinery. It is a unique surviving example of pre-industrial production of screen-printed scarves, with authentic traditional designs from multiple Greek locations. It was only after 1945, the BEM printing house applied silk-screen printing to its products. The craft industry ceased operations during the mid-90s.