History and museums
The National Art Gallery and Alexander Soutzos Museum (Greek: Εθνική Πινακοθήκη, Ethniki Pinakothiki) is an art museum in Athens devoted to Greek and European art from the 14th century to the 20th century. It is directed by Marina Lambraki-Plaka.
It was established in 1878 as a small collection of 117 works exhibited at the Athens University. In 1896, Alexandros Soutzos, a jurist and art lover, bequeathed his collection and estate to the Greek Government aspiring to the creation of an art museum. The museum opened in 1900 and the first curator was the famous Greek painter Georgios Jakobides from Munich. After World War II the works began for a new building. After relocating the sculptures in the new National Glyptotheque, there is a discussion to renovate the main building and to build a new wing.
The gallery exhibitions are mainly focused on post-Byzantine Greek Art. The gallery owns and exhibits also an extensive collection of European artists. Particularly valuable, is the collection of paintings from the Renaissance.
Approximately four million people have visited the National Gallery in the last fourteen years. Its exhibition activity is mainly supported by sponsorships that cover up to half of its budget. The National Gallery has opened the last years branches in Nafplion, Sparta and Corfu.
The gallery is situated on Vassilissis Sofias Avenue, opposite the Hilton Athens. It can be reached with the Athens Metro at the Evangelismos station. The National Glyptotheque is situated at the "Alsos Stratou" (Military Park) in Goudi, near Kanellopoulou Avenue and can be reached with the Athens Metro at the Katehaki station.