The much-touted 2020 plan to move Melbourne’s Hellenic Museum to the former Land Titles Office building on Queen Street as part of a proposed $300-million link with the Benaki Museum has been shelved since mid-2021.

News that the proposal to move the Hellenic Museum had been shelved was reported in a July 29 article in The Age which focused on the state of the former Land Titles Office building which Heritage Victoria had described as being in a “perilous state”.

It reported that Heritage Victoria had refused the latest plans for developer ISPT to redevelop the historic building after noting that the future of the historic building was now “unclear” after the plans to convert it into a satellite for Greece’s Benaki Museum “were quietly shelved last year.”

Neos Kosmos sought clarity from Hellenic Museum’s CEO Sarah Craig and was instead given the same statement that had been provided to The Age: “The Hellenic Museum wishes to clarify that our partnership with ISPT and the proposed Land Titles Office project ended in mid-2021. As we are no longer party to this project, we cannot comment further. – statement ends.”

Questions remained answered about why the plan had been shelved, and why no announcement was made concerning the decision and what where the plans for the future of the Hellenic Museums.

Neos Kosmos also sought clarity from the chairman of the museum board, Harry Stamoulis but had received no reply at the time of writing. Neos Kosmos has also heard rumours that the relationship between the Hellenic Museum and Benaki have fallen over. However there has been no official confirmation of the rumour.

Under the plan announced at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, in October 2020, the current Hellenic Museum premises on William Street were deemed too small and the former Land Titles Office building on Queen Street was considered a suitable new venue.

The museum’s CEO at the time of the announcement, John Tatoulis, told Neos Kosmos that the museum would create a mutual create a mutual trust with Benaki for a partnership that would make the new Greek museum in Melbourne “one of the best and most modern in the world”.

“It will be a museum that will promote Greek history and culture from prehistoric times to the present day,” Mr Tatoulis said at the time.The Benaki Museum is represented in seven museums in Greece and it collections include large Islamic, Byzantine, Chinese artefacts. The Chinese collection consists of 1,300 objects that illustrate the growth of Chinese culture from the 3rd millennium BC to the 19th century. The museum was founded by Antonis Benakis to house his various collections in Egypt. He settled in Greece in 1928 and donated his collection to the Greek State.

The Hellenic Museum was founded by the late Spiros Stamoulis, a noted businessman and philanthropist in 2007, the year he died. The museum is dedicated to Hellenic art and history.