The National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens. Photo: Mathias Voelzke.

Greece’s Long-Delayed National Museum of Contemporary Art Opens Its Doors

The National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens (EMST) is finally open to the public. On Friday, the institution, which is housed in the former Fix Brewery, began welcoming visitors ahead of its official inauguration in April and will offer free admission through March. At a press conference, Greece’s culture minister, Lina Mendoni, called it a “historic day.”

The beleaguered museum faced numerous setbacks, including a shortage of funds, as it renovated its building and pushed back the inauguration date several times. The venue was used as a site for Documenta 14—the first edition of the quinquennial to be hosted by two cities, Kassel and Athens—and has operated in a limited capacity since 2017.

The Ministry of Culture and Sports recently came under scrutiny for failing to choose a leader for the institution following a public competition held in March 2019 and for its appointment of the eighty-five-year-old architect Dimitris Antonakakis as interim director. The dismissal of both of EMST’s previous directors, Anna Kafetsi and Katerina Koskina, led to outcries from the artistic community. Mendoni claims new leadership will be announced in the coming weeks.

Currently on view at the museum is an exhibition featuring 172 artworks by seventy-eight Greek and international artists from its permanent collection. EMST is still working on the exhibition program for its first season, which will supposedly be announced on April 19.