Benaki Museum

We visited the Benaki Museum in Athens. The museum is housed in the former mansion of the Benakis family, who donated their vast collections of Greek art — along with the house — in 1931.

A main floor atrium

Even without the art collections, the mansion itself would be impressive, with lots of light streaming in through the windows onto gleaming marble floors, and open atriums that provide views between levels.

Bust of Dionysus

This terracotta bust of the Greek God Dionysos dates to 380-360 BC. He is wearing a stephane (a type of metal upturned hairband) in his hair and is holding an egg in his left hand, and wine jug on his right.

Religious icons

Above are two colourful religious icon paintings. On the left is The Presentation of Christ in the Temple dating to the late 17th century, and on the right is St. Matthew, dating to the mid 16th century. Modern varieties of these types of icon paintings are for sale at many shops in central Athens, usually clustered around major churches.

Female terracotta figurines. 250-230 BC.
Male Boetian terracotta figurines. 450-430 BC.

Josie was fascinated by these male and female figurines showcasing the elaborate hairstyles that were popular at the time they were carved.

Mosaic fragment

This fragment of mosaic caught my eye for its similarity to the 8-bit video games I played as a kid.

A grave marker. 200-300 BC.
Map of Greece, 17th-18th century

This egg tempera on wood painting of Greece has vibrant blues, reds and golds that have survived the centuries very well.

Parthenon painting by Rudolph Müller, 1863

Swiss artist Rudolph Müller painted many romanticized views of Ancient Greek sites around Greece. The places are still very recognizable today.

Macedonian reception room

An upper floor of the museum showcased two complete rooms from an 18th-century Macedonian mansion that had been transported and recreated intact.

Back at the museum entrance there are beautiful orange and lemon trees growing up against the building. Late winter is the peak season for these fruits and the sidewalks around Athens were littered with oranges throughout our stay.