Heading to Athens soon? You can now make a date with a Picasso or a Pollock, as well as the Parthenon. One of the world’s most extraordinary private art collections – belonging to the late Greek shipping tycoon Basil Goulandris and his wife Elise - was unveiled to the public at its new purpose-built home in Pangrati on 2 October, 2019.
Decades in the making, the modern art museum of the Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation is the most impactful arrival on the Athens cultural scene since the opening of Renzo Piano’s SNFCC in 2016. Valued at $3 billion, the Goulandris collection includes modern masterpieces by the likes of Cézanne, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Monet, Degas, Rodin, Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasso, Miró, and Giacometti. Taking their place next to these European masters are fine works by Greek artists including Parthenis, Bouzianis, Vasiliou, Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas, Tsarouchis, Moralis and Tetsis. This singular roll call of Impressionist, Modernist and post-war art once hung on the walls of the art-loving couple’s homes in Paris, Lausanne and Gstaad, and was amassed from the 1950s.
“Basil and Elise Goulandris started out with an El Greco, an old master, but they soon shifted radically to modern art. They lived with these artworks. It was not an investment or a business, the pieces all reflect their very personal taste,” says Maria Koutsomallis, Head of the Collection. It was Goulandris’ wish that the gallery be located within the cultural centre of Athens, near to the city's great antiquities and museums and easily accessible for visitors. The museum opening is momentous for Greeks too. “Up until now, there was no way for a Greek person to see a Picasso, a Braques, a Toulouse-Lautrec, a Bacon or a Pollock – they had to travel,” says Koutsomallis.
The museum has a total area of 7,250 square metres, including a great gift shop and café (run by the team from neighbourhood favourite Ohh Boy), an art library, a children's workshop, and 190-seat amphitheatre. You can take a guided tour of the collection or watch short films about individual works as part of your €8 ticket price.
For more information and opening hours, visit the website.