The Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art Thessaloniki was founded in 1979 by a group of visionary citizens of Thessaloniki. In a conversation between Maro Lagia and Alexandros Iolas, after the latter had shown a keen interest in the damages inflicted on the monuments of Thessaloniki by the 1978 catastrophic earthquake, Maro proposed the creation of a contemporary art centre in Thessaloniki. Iola’s response was immediate –“Oh yes, no more hospitals and orphanages; a centre of contemporary art; that’s exactly what Thessaloniki needs.” Alexandros Iolas’ encounter with Thessaloniki was to acquire special significance, not only for the city but also for the posthumous fame of this singularly perceptive collector. There is nothing in Greece today to recall his inspired and creative sojourn in the country save the collection of the 47 works that he donated a generation ago as a “nucleus” around which to build a Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art in this city.
It was with great joy that the Board of Directors of the MMCA decided to honour him by giving his name to the Museum’s new three-storey wing and to dedicate to him the catalogue of the permanent collection, which now numbers more than one thousand works (paintings, sculptures, installations, assemblages, engravings, photographs), in the hope that the Museum will remain independent, unconventional and open-minded, that is guided by the same principles that characterised Iolas himself.
The gesture made by Alexandros Iolas, the Museum’s first great benefactor, found its followers. Well-known collectors, including Magda Kotzia, Franz Geiger, Alexandros and Dorothea Xydis, Giorgos Apergis and Dimitris Meïmaroglou, and with them a host of artists, continue to offer collections and individual works, constantly expanding the Museum’s collection. In addition to our gratitude to all the artist-donors who have thus supported the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art, we wish to express our immense appreciation of their work. The formal and conceptual qualities of their work succeed in establishing a dialectic relation with the young students through the Museum’s educational programmes. Thus, the artistic message is conveyed to the young people promoting their cultural awareness.
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