Joy of Museums Virtual Tours

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Benaki Museum, Athens

Benaki Museum, Athens - Joy of Museums

Benaki Museum, Athens

The Benaki Museum, established in 1930 by Antonis Benakis, is housed in a mansion in downtown Athens, Greece. The museum houses Greek works of art from the prehistorical to modern times. The museum’s collection of Islamic and Chinese art is located at satellite museums.

Highlights of the Benaki Museum, Athens

  • Mycenaean Female Figurines of ‘Phi’ and ‘Psi’ Type
    • These Mycenaean figurines date back to about 1400 BC from Mycenaean Greece. Made of terracotta, they were found in tombs, children’s graves, shrines, and across settlement areas. These terracotta female figures of ‘Phi’ and ‘Psi’ type derive the names from their shape and a resemblance to the Greek letters of psi (ψ) and phi (Φ). The Psi (ψ) figures hold their arms up high in some form of supplication. The phi (Φ) figures hold their hands in front of their body as representative figures to be honored. These Mycenaean terracotta female figures are modeled with breasts, facial features, and they wear painted enveloping garments.
  • Boeotian Horse Figurines with Rider
    • These Boeotian Horse Figurines with Rider made from terracotta with painted decoration were typical grave offerings. Horses were a sign of wealth for the ancient Greeks, and the terracotta horses symbolized or reinforced the status of the deceased. These offerings may have represented the status of the dead or their family’s hopes for their afterlife.
  • Corinthian Helmet
    • This bronze Corinthian Helmet originated in ancient Greece and took its name from the city-state of Corinth. This style became the most popular helmet during the Archaic and early Classical periods. The form gradually gave way to the more open type, which was less expensive to manufacture and did not obstruct the wearer’s vision and hearing as the Corinthian helmet did.
  • Christ by Emmanuel Lambardos
    • Christ by Emmanuel Lambardos depicts a plain and unadorned Christ in the Cretan School style and is executed with technical skill. Sources document two icon painters with the same name, and it is difficult to distinguish between their signed works. They were uncle and nephew, who shared a workshop in Herakleion, Crete.
  • Pilgrim’s Bottle of Saint Menas
    • This ceramic Pilgrim’s Bottle was used for holy water or oil from the shrine of Saint Menas in Egypt. It was used by pilgrims who wanted to take holy water or oil back to their relatives. The Pilgrim’s flask depicts St Minas in supplication, with two kneeling camels on either side of his feet. The camels represent the two camels who returned his body to Egypt for burial. St. Menas is dressed in a soldier’s tunic, his arms extended in the early Christian pose of prayer. St. Menas was martyred in AD 296 and buried in the desert west of Alexandria in northern Egypt. Pilgrims came to the saint’s shrine for the healing powers of its sacred oil, carried away in these small flasks.

A Tour of the Benaki Museum, Athens

Benaki Museum

A Tour of Museums in Athens


“You don’t develop courage by being happy in your relationships every day.
You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.”

– Epicurus


Photo Credit: JOM

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