Greek banks, as wealthy and prestigious institutions with a prominent role in the country’s economy and society, have become major patrons of the arts and culture.
The Bank of Greece began to set up an art collection a few years after its establishment, acquiring paintings mostly for the purpose of decorating its then newly-built Head Office in Athens.
Apart from paintings, the Collections of the Bank of Greece also include other works of art (sculptures, engravings, ceramics), coins and various objects of aesthetic value: architectural elements (stained glass compositions, mosaics, murals), furniture, antiques, photographs, etc.
The Bank’s Art Collection
Regarding the Bank’s Art Collection, the earlier acquisitions focused mostly on academic painting from the 19th century, typically featuring historical and mythological themes, genre scenes, landscapes and still-lifes.
Over time, however, the Collection came to embrace more contemporary movements, such as expressionism, impressionism, abstract art, etc. The Bank’s Art Collection covers a broad spectrum of Greek painting from the mid-19th to the mid-20th century, as represented by such artists as Konstantinos Volanakis, Nikephoros Lytras, Nikolaos Gysis, Ioannis Altamuras, Εktor Doukas, Odysseas Fokas, Spyros Vikatos, Konstantinos Maleas, Nikos Fotakis, etc.
The Bank’s Numismatic Collection
The Bank’s Numismatic Collection consists of coins, paper currency and exonumia (i.e. tokens, medals, etc). Notable private collections, acquired by purchase or donation, include the Evelpidis and Petsalis collections of ancient coins, the Brisimitzakis collection of modern Greek and foreign coinage and medals, as well as the Tazedakis collection of medals, one of the largest of its kind in the world.
The Centre for Culture, Research and Documentation, as part of its policy to maximise the value of the Bank’s Collections, devotes considerable resources to their organisation, management, documentation, enrichment, conservation and restoration, appraisal and promotion, in accordance with best professional standards. It should be noted that conservation and restoration works are performed in-house at the Bank’s conservation facilities for canvas, paper and metal conservation by highly-qualified staff.
In order to make the Collections accessible to a wider audience, the Bank holds exhibitions, loans items to other organisations' exhibitions at home and abroad, and releases special publications.