Museums
Museums
Museums

National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens (partially) open at last

The public gets a peek inside the long-delayed building with the temporary exhibition Urgent Conversations: Athens-Antwerp

by Helen Stoilas  |  4 November 2016
National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens (partially) open at last
The National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST) in Athens opens with Urgent Conversations: Athens-Antwerp (Image: © Helena Paraskeva)
The National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST) in Athens finally opened its new home in the former Fix brewery to the public on 31 October with the exhibition Urgent Conversations: Athens-Antwerp (until 29 January). After more than 12 years in planning and construction, the €37m museum building was completed in 2014 but has largely remained closed because of financial and bureaucratic obstacles.

This week’s soft opening is only of the temporary exhibition galleries, but is the largest artistic presentation EMST has organised in its new building. Earlier this year, the museum opened certain spaces briefly as part of its “Prologue” programme for special events, such as the performance Lagune by the Swiss artist Denis Savary, held on the roof on 19 May, International Museum Day; a concert with the Greek National Opera held on the fourth floor veranda on 21 June, World Music Day; and when it hosted the Museum of People’s Free Thinking, run by art students, from 28 June to 3 July. The long-overdue inauguration of the full museum, including displays for its permanent collection of more than 1,000 works by Greek and foreign artists including Bill Viola, Mona Hatoum, Shirin Neshat, Gary Hill and Nan Goldin, is expected to happen in the fall of 2017.
 
The current show is billed as a “theoretical and visual dialogue” between the collections of the EMST and the Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp (MuHKA) in Belgium and is curated by the two museums’ directors, Katerina Koskina  and Bart De Baere. More than 70 works by 66 artists are grouped together according to 22 topics, such as Dealing With Catastrophe, Rage, Matter As Meaning and Secular Devotion.
Visitors turn out in force for the opening of Urgent Conversations: Athens-Antwerp at the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens (Image: © Giorgia Gavali)

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