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.
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