US Ambassador Pyatt Inaugurates Museum in Lia, Epirus

A new museum at the border village of Lia near Albania including paintings by Greek painters Theophilos and Dimitris Sorogas was inaugurated by United States Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt on Monday.

The Yfantis Museum, named after industrialist Alekos Yfantis who comes from the area, includes three rare paintings by important folk painter Theofilos, who lived and died in Mytilini in 1934 and whose paintings had been donated to a local church. Sorogas, a well-known contemporary artist who attended the event, has donated four paintings to the museum.

The museum is housed in the old stone-built village school and was originally built with funds by a Lia native in South Africa in 1934. Included in the exhibit are photographs of daily life in the past and of well-known international visitors who came to the village.

The inauguration, a kilometer from the Greek borders with Albania, attracted a large turnout.
In his comments, Ambassador Pyatt said, “Like many Americans I first learned the history of this region and the difficult experiences of the German occupation and the civil war through the eyes of Nick’s mother Eleni,” referring to Nick Gatzoyiannis (Gage), who attended the event and is one of three diaspora Greeks from the area featured in the museum exhibits.

The museum, Pyatt said, “Captures one of the distinguishing characteristics of the Greek people: the extraordinary resilience and the strength to carry on,” and said the area had a fantastic potential to do more with tourism and American touristm in this part of Greece.”

Gatzoyiannis, speaking of efforts to restore the collapsing building, said that the villages need to be kept alive. “Beauty has its place even in the toughest environment, and the Greek people’s creative imagination can be found even in the most remote areas of our homeland.”