Greece - Libraries and museums



The National Library traces its origins to 1828, when it was established on the island of Aíyina; the library was moved to its present site in Athens in 1903 and today has more than 2.5 million volumes. The National Library building suffered damage from earthquakes in 1981 and 1999. Both the National Library and the Library of Parliament (1.5 million volumes) act as legal depositories for Greek publications and are open to the public. Public libraries are located mainly in provincial capitals, and there are regional libraries with bookmobile services for rural areas. In 1997, there were 672 public libraries with a total of 9.1 million volumes. Besides the libraries attached to the universities and other educational institutions, there are several specialized research libraries located in Athens. Outstanding special collections can be found at the Democritus Nuclear Research Center (91,000 volumes), the Center of Planning and Economic Research (30,000 volumes), the Athens Center of Ekistics (30,000 volumes), and the Gennadius Library (80,000 volumes), which houses a large collection on modern Greek history. Being at the crossroads of different civilizations and an important European country, there are several libraries attached to various cultural and ethnic studies centers. Notable among these are the libraries of the Institute for Balkan Studies in Thessaloniki, the British Council, the Society for Byzantine Studies in Athens, and the Center for Asia Minor Studies in Athens.

Most museums are devoted to antiquities and archaeology. One of the richest collections of Greek sculpture and antiquities is found at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, which is also home to the Byzantine and Christian Museum, Benaki Museum, and Kanellopoulos Museum. The most impressive archaeological remains, of course, are the great temples and palaces at Athens (particularly the Parthenon and the Stoa of Attalos), Corinth, Salonika, Delphi, Olympia, Mycenae, the island of Delos, and Knossos, on Crete. There are also notable museums dedicated to the work of other cultures, including the Byzantine Museum and the Jewish Museum, both in Athens. Among the newer facilities are the Hellenic Children's Museum (1987), the Museum of Greek Popular Musical Instruments (1991), the Museum of Delphic Celebrations of Angelos and Eva Sikelianou (1991), the Nikolaos Parantinos Museum of Sculpture (1991), and the Maria Callas Museum (2003) all located in Athens.

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