The Museum of Byzantine Culture was established in Thessaloniki in order to serve as a centre for the preservation, research and study of the evidence of Byzantine civilization surviving in the Macedonian region and particularly in Thessaloniki, the city which was the most important centre, next to Constantinople, in the European section of the Byzantine Empire. At the same time, it will be the seat of the European Centre for Research of Byzantine Civilization, established in cooperation with Unesco, for the purpose of providing further education to scholars, scientists and technicians on matters pertaining to the sesearch and preservation of Byzantine monuments.
Byzantine civilization, the continuation and evolution of Ancient Greek civilization. rooted in the multiform tradition of Late Antiquity, eveloped a unified expressive idiom, through which it was able to transmit its own intellectual messages.
The new idiom of artistic expression derives from a new interpretation of classical art, since the transition from the ancient world to the mediaeval bears the decisive seal of the Christian religion.In order to comprehend the the esoteric grandeur of this civilization, it is necessary for modern man to follow the path of contemplation and penetrating introspection which leads to a state beyond the senses, to a transcendental course of intellectual elevation and religious revelation.
Thessaloniki, a thriving centre of commercial life and economic prosperity, had, at the same time, been a centre of intellectual and artistic life and creation to which flowed pre-eminent personalities of the Letters and the Arts from all over the empire, especially during the Palaeologan period.
The wealth and variety of ideological currents and artistic trends which crossed paths at this junction of the Balkan peninsula, gave a special character to the physiognomy of Byzantine Thessaloniki and contributed to its special radiance upon the wider Balkan region.
Contemporary Thessaloniki, with its monuments which span the whole evolution of Byzantine Art through time, is an "open, outdoor" museum of Byzantine culture and refers us to the Museum as the centre of research of this culture. Conversely, the Museum will function an an extension of the Byzantine city, with a constant reference to its physical space and monuments.
Thessaloniki has always been, from Byzantine times to this day, the gateway to the transcendental world of the Holy Mountain, the Ark of Orthodox Monasticism. The flow of ideas, of theological inquiry, of the new artistic trends, from the God-protected Holy Mountain to the rest of the Orthodox world, has always followed the path leading to the great Byzantine city. It is not coincidental, therefore, that the Museum of Byzantine Culture shall have the honour to host the first, great Exhibition of Treasures from the Holy Mountain.
The Director of the Museum
Eftichia Kourkoutidou - Nikolaidou
Curator of Antiquities
© 1997 Macedonian Press Agency