From the Peloponnese in the south, to Evros in the north a network of nine thematic museums aims at showcasing Greece’s cultural heritage.
In particular, the museums created and supported by the Piraeus Bank Group Cultural Foundation (PIOP) are trying to highlight traditional methods of how previous generations harnessed Greece’s natural resources.
The museums that welcome over a hundred thousand visitors each year are also cultural focal points in the cities hosting them.
A spokeswoman for PIOP says that the numbers visiting the museums are rising each year. In 2017 more than 300,000 people visited, compared to 215,000 in 2006.
The PIOP network of museum includes:
The Open-Air Water Power Museum in Dimitsana
It highlights the importance of water power in traditional society. Focusing on the main pre-industrial techniques that take advantage of water to produce a variety of goods, it links them to the history and daily life of the local society over the ages.
Visitors can tour the traditional workshops that are surrounded by plush vegetation and running waters.
The first building houses a fulling-tub and a flour mill. Outside the mill a cauldron is exhibited and opposite there is a tannery, where visitors get to know the various stages of the leather-dressing process.
The cobbled road leads to a gunpowder mill which reminds visitors of the role that Dimitsana played during the 1821 Revolution.
The Museum of the Olive and Greek Olive Oil in Sparti
The Museum of the Olive and Greek Olive Oil, in Sparta (Peloponnese), transports you to the culture, history and technology of olive and olive oil production in the Greek realm, from prehistoric times to the early 20th century.
The museum’s objective is to highlight the ineffable relation of the olive with the identity of our country and, more generally, the Mediterranean basin.
The olive and olive oil are presented here from different optical angles: the economy, nutrition and the olive’s uses, religious worship, art and technology.
The Environment Museum of Stymphalia
The Environment Museum of Stymphalia, whose aim is to show the interdependence of mankind and Nature, focuses on their harmonious coexistence in the Stymphalia basin.
Its objective is to raise the public’s ecological awareness and preserve the knowledge of the region’s traditional technology.
In the museum’s interior you have access to what, in Greece, is a unique exhibit: an open aquarium representing a cross-section of lakes with live fish and plants of the region.
Museum of Marble Crafts in Tinos
The Museum of Marble Crafts, in Pirgos, on the island of Tinos, is a unique example presenting the technology of marble, a material that holds a particular place in the architecture and art of Greece, from antiquity through to the present.
The permanent exhibition, which describes the intricate meshing of tools and techniques used in working marble in a detailed and live manner, puts an emphasis on the pre- and proto- industrial Tinos, the most important centre of marble crafts in Modern Greece.
In parallel, it highlights the social and economic context that the local workshops evolved in.
The Chios Mastic Museum
The Chios Mastic Museum is located in the Mastichochoria (literally: mastic villages), a group of medieval villages in Southern Chios, the only site in the Mediterranean where the mastic tree, or Pistacia lentiscus are.
Chia, is cultivated; called by its generic name of skínos in Greek, this is an endemic variety of pistacia plant from which mastíha (gum mastic) is produced.
The Chios Mastic Museum aims to showcase the production history of the mastic tree’s cultivation and the processing of its resin, which it integrates into the cultural landscape of Chios.
Through the prism of UNESCO’s inclusion of traditional mastic cultivation on its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2014, emphasis is given to the diachronicity and sustainability of this product of Chios.
The Museum of Industrial Olive-Oil Production of Lesvos
This museum showcases the industrial phase of olive-oil production in Greece. It focuses on the changes brought about by the introduction of mechanical motion on the process of olive-oil production and approaches the contribution of the region’s inhabitants to the production process with sensitivity.
Its objective is to showcase our industrial heritage in the sector of olive-oil production and incorporate it into the broader architectural, social and cultural context of the period.
You will familiarize yourselves with the basic stages of olive-oil production: crushing the olives, compressing the olive pulp and separating the olive oil from the water.
You will also see the flourmill, which functioned in a complementary manner during the summer months when the olive press was out of use.
The Silk Museum in Soufli
The Silk Museum presents the different phases of sericulture and silk manufacturing in detail and focuses on how the town of Soufli became a major silk-producing centre in the late 19th through to the mid-20th century.
You shall acquaint yourself with details from all the phases composing the cycle of sericulture and discover the stages of silk manufacturing through authentic exhibits, supported by audiovisual material.
The Rooftile and Brickworks Museum in Volos
The Museum is housed in the old Rooftile and Brickworks Factory of Nikolaos and Spyridon Tsalapatas.
It presents daily life in the factory, as well as all the production stages of different types of bricks and tiles.
Its objective is to showcase the historical identity of the town of Volos and to contribute to the preservation and promotion of its industrial heritage.
The N. & S. Tsalapatas Rooftile and Brickworks Factory was one of the largest of its kind. Its workshops and industrial facilities have been restored and today constitute a rare surviving example of an industrial complex in Greece.
The Silversmithing Museum in Ioannina
It is located in the castle of Ioannina, and more specifically in the western bastion of the north-eastern acropolis (Kale). It occupies the bastion’s two levels, as well as the adjacent building of the old cookhouses.
Its objective is to preserve our knowledge of Epirote silversmithing and to disseminate information about its technology to the wider public. Also, to tie in this technology to the social context of the period during which it was developed and flourished.
It is a thematic museum, as it concerns the technology of silversmithing during the pre-industrial period, while simultaneously being a regional museum, as it focuses principally on the history of silversmithing in the region of Epirus.
Temporally, the exhibition refers essentially to the post-Byzantine period, from the 15th century onwards, but without excluding references to the more distant past, given that the technology used to produce silverware often dates back to much older periods of time.
For more information about the museums visit http://www.piop.gr.