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Politics

Mitsotakis Welcomes Visiting Officials to Newly Reopened National Gallery

ATHENS — Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his spouse Mareva Grabowski-Mitsotaki welcomed foreign dignitaries to the refurbished National Gallery of Art on Wednesday afternoon, as part of events commemorating the 200 years since the start of the Greek War of Independence (1821) from Ottoman Turks.

Prior to small groups of guided tours, the premier, Culture Minister Lina Mendoni and Gallery Director Marina Lambraki-Plaka delivered brief addresses to an audience of representatives of France, Britain, Russia, nations that played key roles in the Greek Revolution, as well as the leader of Cyprus and Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou.

Guests included Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and his spouse Andri, Russian Federation Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, and Prince of Wales Charles and Duchess of Cornwall Camilla. French Defense Minister Florence Parly, who would represent President Emmanuel Macron, was expected to arrive later.

The event was also attended by President Sakellaropoulou and her partner Pavlos Kotsonis, French Ambassador to Greece Patrick Maisonneuve, British Ambasssador Kate Smith, President of the committee "Greece 2021" Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki and her spouse Theodoros Angelopoulos, and Louvre Museum President Jean-Luc Martinez.

The completion of the expanded art museum and the new exhibitions of its holdings – art of the 19th and 20th centuries – "was a deadline set by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in August 2019," Mendoni said, and the date for the reopening marked a significant station of a new and modern, dynamic Greece.

Addressing the visiting officials, Mitsotakis said that the updated and expanded Gallery of Art is "an emblematic cultural landmark that meets a unique historical milestone." Running briefly through the museum's history, the premier said the museum was established on the island of Egina in 1829 under governor Ioannis Kapodistrias, who provided the core collections. In 1896, the scholar and lawyer Alexandros Soutsos donated to the state his assets and his personal collection, which led to a new foundation established in 1900 under the direction of painter Giorgos Iacovides.

Twelve years after the start of the project, and nearly two centuries after its first pieces were collected, the museum now holds 20,000 works, the premier said. Over 21,000 square meters include exhibition halls, storage space, an amphiteater, a library, and state-of-the-art conservation laboratories. He noted that part of the cost was met through major private donations, with the greatest one being that of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.

During the revolution, Greece's allies included the British, French and Russians, peoples that led their governments to the Battle of Navarino (1827) and the treaties of London, which provided Greece's independence. "Those ties, along with our brotherly ties with Cyprus, have never been dissolved through time," Mitsotakis noted.

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