by Alexandra Papaisidorou*
The three major collections of the Museum of Cycladic Art (Cycladic Culture, Ancient Greek Art, Cypriot Culture) captivate the imagination of each visitor. EBR?was there in an in-depth discussion with Mr. Nikos Stampolidis, Professor and Director of MCA. The Artwork demands love, brightness, optimism. The name of the museum refers to the culture of Cycladic islands whose name means 'around' (kuklas-circle); thus meaning the circle of life, inspiration, design, colour, lighting. Mr. Stampolidis, through his vivid descriptions and apposite report, manages to travel us around Greece and its rich cultural folklore style, decoration, and shapes. New forthcoming exhibitions, new publications, educational programs and a large number of other activities create a promising future for MCA and pay off the efforts made with a strong proof the high numbers of visitors and the levels of MCA popularity.
EBR: The Museum of Cycladic Art has many temporary exhibitions of a great success. “Princesses of the Mediterranean in the Dawn of History” was my first thought over that, could you please specify a few points about the criteria of choosing collections and exhibits and what factors make some of them to be some remarkable?
N.S.: Apart from the permanent exhibitions the MCA produces a series of temporary exhibitions of archaeological, Renaissance, modern and contemporary interests. The permanent exhibitions focus on the Cycladic and Aegean culture, mainland archaic, classical and Hellenistic Greece, Cyprus and Eastern Mediterranean and Scenes of everyday life in ancient Greece.
The criteria for temporary exhibitions are multiple, for example themes/subjects directly linked and related to human beings such as “EROS” (Love), “HYGIEIA” (Health) and “BEYOND” (Death/After life) or others like “Princesses of the Mediterranean in the Dawn of History”, “Sea Routes. Interconnections in the Mediterranean, 16th – 6th cent. BC” etc. Recently, antiquity has been co-exhibited with modern and contemporary pieces of art promoting a dialogue such as “Shape in the beginning” and “Cy Twombly and Greek antiquity” (Divine Dialogues)
EBR: How has your love for art been originated?
N.S.: Natura; attraction to beauty due to the Minoan civilization which flourished in my birthplace, Crete, and all the archaeological remnants which were further reinforced by my school teachers and my Professors, Manolis Andronikos and George Despinis.
EBR: How can the separate units of thematic areas into the museum influence the visitors’ preferences? For example, there are some exhibitions or collections more popular than others, how do you handle it?
N.S.: The Cycladic collection is the core of the MCA surrounded by three others “concentering circles” containing exhibits of ancient Greek and Cypriot pieces of art. Popularity depends on the visitors’ age and cultural interest (job, educational level etc.).
EBR: What is worth visiting the Museum of Cycladic Art for the current period?
N.S.: The temporary exhibition entitled “MONEY Tangible symbols in ancient Greece” combining gold and silver coins from the Numismatic Collection of Alpha Bank with marble statues, relieves, inscriptions, vases, jewellery from 32 Greeks and European museums.
EBR: What are the future goals for MCA?
- New forthcoming exhibitions both archaeological and contemporary
- New publications: Exhibition Catalogues, Proceedings of Conferences and Lectures
- To increase the participation in our ongoing educational programs
- To enlarge and widen the “spectrum” of our audience, to attract new visitors through our activities
EBR: What are the visiting figures of MCA each year?
N.S.: 60.000 – 70.000 visitors per year not included school visitors
EBR: How can visitors be more updated on MCA news?
N.S.: MCA web page, social media, newsletters, magazines & newspapers, TV & radio
EBR: Under which efforts and funds can large exhibitions be developed?
N.S.: Gold and other sponsors, contributions by the Friends of the MCA, Fundraisings etc.
EBR: What can someone attend during a first visit in MCA?
N.S.: The four floors permanent exhibition and especially the Scenes of Everyday Life, the coffee shop and the Cycladic shop.
EBR: Do you have many activities for kids? Could you make us a brief description?
N.S.: The Department of Education has been operating since the establishment of the MCA in 1986. Its varied and imaginative activities and its innovative teaching methods continue to attract an enthusiastic response by schools and individuals, which is reflected in attendance figures more than 10 000 participants per year.
To bring the world of museums closer to pupils and their teachers and cover the needs of schools in remote parts of Greece, the Education Department designed a series of Museum Kits, each one focusing on a particular subject and containing copies of artifacts, teaching material, slides, photographs, books, and educational games.?
EBR: Financial crisis has also a great influence on the MCA affairs?
N.S.: Through our common efforts the financial crisis has not influenced the MCA affairs.
EBR: Which are the reasons for someone to visit the MCA?
N.S.: Visiting the MCA visitors are being offered a comprehensive view of the Cycladic and ancient Greek civilization. Leaving aside a strictly scientific exhibition method a visitor will enjoy a short tour on scenes of daily life in antiquity.
A visitor can frequently enjoy various temporary exhibitions either archaeological or contemporary art. To relax in an enjoyable atmosphere in the Cycladic coffee shop. To bring back home aesthetic values through the items of the Museum’s Shop.
EBR: Do you believe that EU has contributed to a cultural integration?
N.S.: They have been serious efforts for a cultural integration.
EBR: Is there a European culture, in your opinion?
N.S.: It depends on the approach but generally speaking I would say yes.
*Editor-at-large & PhD candidate of European & International Relations