Ilias Lalaounis was not just a Greek jewelry designer – he was a man who valued education and knowledge about Greek history and culture. He created the Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum in Athens (located near the Acropolis) so that the history and art of jewelry making could be displayed in perpetuity. The Museum, in tandem with The American Friends of the Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum (a U.S. tax-exempt corporation), is an institution committed to educating people, especially young artists, through its summer and year-round artistry programs.
The Museum’s permanent exhibition features over 3,000 jewelry items and micro-sculptures from 50 collections designed by Ilias Lalaounis between 1940 and 2002. Among others, collections include those inspired by prehistoric art, the art of Ancient Greece, the art and architecture of Byzantium, 15 different world cultures, nature and technology, as well as special commissions such as the Olympic torch and ceremonial swords.
The Museum also offers various programs for young artists to attend including the Jewelry Artist in Residence Program and the Hephaistos Summer School. These innovative programs engage both artists and the public to further understand and learn about the art of studio jewelry.
The Jewelry Artist in Residence Program applies to artists that wish to engage in cultivating their art in public activities with visitors and other artists. The Program invites applications from local and international mid-career artists working on studio jewelry or traditional crafts, as well as architects and engineers. Students work within the Museum premises – In the Jewelry Metalsmithing Studio and in the Jewelry Crafts Studio. The residents may work during the Museum’s operating hours and use all available tools and machinery on site – including the Museum’s research facilities. Available seats commence every month and run throughout the year. The duration of the residencies themselves vary from two to six months.
The Hephaistos Summer School program is an accredited program on the History of Western Jewelry that runs every June. It is organized through the Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum Educational Center in collaboration with esteemed Greek and International academics, archaeologists, and jewelry experts. Participants explore jewelry history in the heart of western civilization. The program provides three U.S. college credits, or students may alternatively gain credit from their own universities after arrangements with their department of study.