Melbourne may become a global centre for the promotion of Greek history and culture with the creation of a new Greek museum that aspires to be one of the best and most modern in the world.
The ambitious plans were revealed to Neos Kosmos by Melbourne’s Hellenic Museum CEO John Tatoulis who noted that the project is in cooperation with the Benaki Museum, resulting in the creation of a mutual trust.
The Benaki Museum has always wanted to expand outside of Greece and had aspirations for other parts of the world, but was eventually persuaded to choose Melbourne.
“It will be a museum that will promote Greek history and culture from prehistoric times to the present day,” Mr Tatoulis told Neos Kosmos.
The Benaki Museum is one of the most famous museums in Athens. The house of the Alexandrian Benakis family was transformed into the museum in 1929 by Antonis Benakis in memory of his father Emmanuel Benakis.
Initially, Antonis Benakis began to compile his various collections in Egypt. When he returned to Greece in 1928 to permanently settle, he donated his collection to the Greek State.
The museum hosts works from all eras of Greek history and art from prehistoric to modern times and is exactly what the Melbourne museum aspires to showcase.
The Benaki Museum also hosts foreign works such as the Chinese collection with 1,300 artefacts of excellent quality that illustrate the evolution of Chinese culture from the 3rd millennium BC until the 19th century.
It also has a collection of over 8,000 samples of work of Islamic culture, from India and Persia, Mesopotamia and Asia Minor, the Middle East, Egypt and North Africa to Sicily and Spain.
Mr Tatoulis said the current Hellenic Museum housed in the old Mint is impressive, but small. Instead the team has chosen the old Property and Land Titles office to transform into the new museum.
This building previously belonged to Victoria University and is located on Queen Street, very close to the Hellenic Museum.
Mr Tatoulis explained that discussions are being held with Victoria University to join in as partners of the project as the university is located in the same area.
“Essentially we aspire to make a cultural neighborhood in the region that will be one of the best in the world,” Mr Tatoulis said.
According to Mr Tatoulis the project will cost around $300 million and will be funded by individuals and the State.
Construction of the new museum will begin next year and will be completed in three years once the authorisation to go ahead has been given.