Byzantine and Christian Museum

Athens, Greece


The Byzantine and Christian Museum of Athens is one of the most important public institutions in Greece. It was established in 1914 to collect, study, preserve and exhibit the Byzantine and Post-Byzantine artifacts so vital to the cultural heritage of the Hellenic territory from the 3rd century AD to the late medieval era. The museum’s extensive collection includes nearly 30,000 of works of art including icons, sculptures, ceramics, ecclesiastical textiles, paintings, jewels, coins, frescoes, and mosaics. The museum underwent renovations and added a new wing, reopening to the public in June 2004, in time for its 90th anniversary and the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Building project: Architect Manos Perrakis

Exhibition designer: Architect Eleni Stefanou Katsanika, with the collaboration of Dimitrios Tsonis, Elena Bairaktari and Alexandra Ntounis

The challenge

The Byzantine and Christian Museum of Athens houses one of the most important collections of Byzantine art in the world, many of it in delicate condition. Creating caseworks to display and conserve the works on paper and coins presented the greatest challenges.

The solution

The exhibition design called for an integrated, climate-controlled display system that would include vertical wall-mounted cases, inclined cases, and “herringbone” cases with diagonal openings, all of glass and with etched glass panels.

To enable precise climate control of the cases intended for books and manuscripts, Goppion developed a special sealing system for the work: all of the glass panels were seated to the cases with silicon gaskets and magnets to achieve an airtight seal over the entire perimeter.

Custom-made display mechanisms within each case use chemically compatible and inert materials: for instance, narrow shelves of Plexiglas with fiber-optic cables embedded in them angle the light to render the coins perfectly legible while isolating them from any other potentially damaging material.