The Benaki Museum, which was founded in 1930 by Antonis Benakis in memory of his father Emmanuel Benakis, houses ancient and modern Greek works of art, and a large collection of Asian art.
The museum initially housed a collection that included Islamic art, Chinese porcelain, and exhibits on toys. The museum’s 2000 re-opening led to the creation of satellite museums that focused on specific collections, allowing the main museum to focus on Greek culture over the span of the country’s history.
The Benaki Museum of Greek Civilization is the oldest of the Benaki Museum’s five functional museums.
Unique examples of sculpture, ceramics, and jewelry are included in its Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine collections.
The collection of textiles, oil lamps, clay figurines, bone carvings from Alexandria, and a rare group of Coptic works of art, illustrate the transition from the ancient to the Byzantine world.
Byzantine and post-Byzantine icons, ecclesiastical embroidery, and metalwork show the impact of Christianity on the art of the time. Ceramics, jewelry, costumes, woodcarvings, paintings, and metalwork complete the presentation of Greek art in the four post-Byzantine centuries.
It also hosts periodic exhibitions and maintains a state-of-the-art restoration and conservation workshop. The museum is one of Greece’s most important cultural institutions.