The Archaeological Museum of Chania in Crete opened the doors to its new premises in Halepa today, offering free entrance to visitors on its opening weekend.
Previously located in the former Venetian Monastery of Saint Francis at Chalidon Street, the Archaeological Museum of Chania had closed for the public in 2020, as its rich collection was relocated to the new building and enriched with hundreds of new exhibits.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, whose parents’ private collection of antiquities is also housed at the new museum, and Culture and Sports Minister, Lina Mendoni, were given a tour by the Director of the Museum and Head of Chania Ephorate of Antiquities, Eleni Papadopoulou, on the evening ahead of the official opening.
New exhibits in the museum of Chania
Established in 1962, the Archaeological Museum of Chania had already included a substantial collection of Minoan and Roman artefacts excavated from around the city of Chania and the surrounding regional unit, as well as from Axos and Lappa in Rethymno regional unit.
Over 3,500 objects are on show; coins, jewelery, vases, sculpture, clay tablets with inscriptions, stelae and mosaics paint the picture of what life and art felt like in ancient Crete.
The private collection of antiquities of the Prime Minister’s late parents, Konstantinos and Marika Mitsotakis, donated to the Greek state 22 years ago, is exhibited in its entirety for the first time.
Part of the donated collection, which covers a period from 4000 B.C. to 300 A.D., was previously showcased at the old premises of the Archaeological Museum of Chania and had also traveled to the Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens for a temporary exhibition.
State-of-the-art museum in Chania
The single-story new premises of the Archaeological Museum of Chania occupy almost 6000 sq.m. in a 12000 sq.m. plot.
It includes restoration labs, a large room for educational activities and a 120-capacity amphitheater, also accessible to visitors with reduced mobility. Two touch tables have been added in the atrium for the visually impaired.
The museum’s construction and implementation budget exceeded 15 million euros, 14 million of which was covered by EU funding.
Designed by architect Theophanis Bobotis and partners, the new Archaeological Museum of Chania is a bioclimatic triangular building that emerges from a hillside and projects out over the sea.
The two distinct linear monoliths composing the building symbolize the evidence of civilization hidden under the earth’s surface.
Cobble stone and large concrete tiles are featured on the entrance to the building while there is an emphasis on freshness and clarity within the premises with crisp, white interiors softened by parquet floors.
As detailed in the project description on the architect’s website, the museum’s geometric design centers on openness and the free flow of movement and draws inspiration from the natural environment.
“There is a simple arrangement of exhibition spaces which invite visitors to roam freely around exhibits. The interior spaces predominantly feature controlled lighting, and with a perforated steel roof that is designed to be able to alter the sunlight entering the building,” it is stated.