Heraklion Municipality possesses many works of art which reflect the evolution of visual arts in Crete from its earliest forms to its most recent expressions.
The creation of the initial part of its collection followed the foundation of Heraklion Municipality. The collection was gradually enriched by the donations of various artists, including works by renowned artists (Fanourakis, Markogiannakis, Tsarouchis, Vasiliou, Fasianos etc). The painting by the great Cretan painter Doménikos Theotokópoulos entitled “The Birth of Christ" was also purchased to become one of the crown jewels of the collection. At present, the total number of all paintings, sculptures, engravings and miniatures exceeds 1,000.
The Heraklion Municipal Art Gallery houses exceptional works of art by Greek and foreign artists that cover a large part of modern history and were inspired by the memories of Crete as the birthplace of 5+1 Cultures. The multiculturalism of the island, as a source of inspiration, gave birth to creators who incorporated into their works elements of various styles and subjects.
As far as the techniques used are concerned, the Heraklion Municipality art collection comprises:
paintings (tempera, oil painting, aquarelle, silkscreen print, pencil and charcoal drawing, acrylic, pastel etc),
engravings and sculptures of all techniques that have appeared in contemporary Greek art since the early 20th century (woodcut, chalcography, etching etc)
The thematic palette of the exhibits comprises: Icons inspired by the Venetian art and mannerism, portraits, Historical and Moral themes, still life paintings and landscape paintings of the countryside, the sea and of the city of Khándax dominated by light and chromatic gradations.
These exceptional works of art, an integral part of Heraklion's cultural heritage, will be housed and presented to the public in recognition of their artistic and cultural importance for our land.
The long-awaited acquisition of a building to house the Heraklion Municipal Art Gallery was concluded following the concession by the Ministry of Culture of the Kothris - Liopirakis Mansion, located at the junction of 25th August and Epimenidou Streets. This building will act as a hub of culture and will introduce European visual art creation to local art enthusiasts through important periodical exhibitions.
At the same time, the permanent Municipal Art Gallery will welcome works by great artists who have already submitted a donation proposal to Heraklion Municipality.
Heraklion Municipality is investing in culture and artistic creation in an effort to pass on to its citizens a Municipal Art Gallery worthy of the city’s history.
The building which is currently housing the Heraklion Municipal Art Gallery is the Saint Mark’s Basilica which was built in 1239 at PLAZZA DELLE BIADE (the Square of Grain) and was the Cathedral of Crete. The temple was an important building for the citizens of Crete during the Venetian era. All the officials and rulers of the island took up their duties in an official ceremony held at the temple and people would ask for the Saint’s protection when in need. Moreover, the Dukes and the members of the island’s aristocracy were buried in sarcophagi with bas-relief decorations.
Two of these graves are visible today on the eastern side of the temple. At present, the Art Gallery is featuring works selected from the rich art collection of Heraklion Municipality, such as paintings by Maria Fioraki, Lefteris Kanakakis, Thomas Fanourakis and many other famous artists. The idea for the temporary housing of the Heraklion Municipal Art Gallery in Saint Mark’s Basilica came up following the successful exhibitions of the works of Doménikos Theotokópoulos (1990), of the Icons of the Cretan School (1993) and of the Fayum mummy portraits (1998) which also included relevant international conferences.