Inauguration of the "Christian Art Museum" in Chambésy, Geneva
03 Feb '11


In the presence of His Most Divine All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Mr Vartholomeos, the ‘Christian Art Museum’ was inaugurated on 3 February 2011 at the Orthodox Centre of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Chambésy, Geneva. His Eminence Metropolitan Jeremiah of Switzerland, Director of the Centre, talked about the history of its foundation and the important contribution of former Metropolitan Damaskinos of Switzerland during its first years of operation. In his speech, he said that the purpose of the Museum is to be an international centre for the promotion of ecclesiastical art, as well as any other form of art that is related to the tradition and culture of Orthodoxy, thus complementing the role of the Orthodox Centre.

The Museum was built with a donation by the Latsis Family in memory of John S. Latsis, and Mr Aris Serbetis was responsible for the architectural study and supervision. For its inauguration, two simultaneous exhibitions are held, each of which uses a different approach and perspective to show the ecumenical spirit of Orthodoxy, which the Centre has been supporting and serving since its foundation in 1966.

As His Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarch, stressed in his speech:

The exhibition entitled ‘Relics of the Past: Treasures of the Greek Orthodox Church and the Population Exchange. The Benaki Museum Collections’, which will be hosted at the Museum until 24 July 2011, was organised by the Benaki Museum and funded exclusively by the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation. It consists of 90 ecclesiastical treasures, which date back to the period from the 16th to the 19th century, mainly silver objects, embroideries and icons that the Greek Orthodox populations of Asia Minor and Eastern Thrace brought in Greece.

The Benaki Museum is one of the Greek institutions that have preserved the valuable relics that the Greek refugees of the Asia Minor Catastrophe were able to salvage after the compulsory population exchange of 1923.

In the bilingual (English and French) catalogue of the exhibition, which is now available, Mr Angelos Delivorrias, Director of the Benaki Museum, states that:

“The Benaki Museum Collections include objects that come from Eastern Thrace, Pontus and Central Asia Minor, the former Byzantine province of Cappadocia. Given that they were made in workshops in Constantinople, a significant number of these objects indirectly reflect the atmosphere of the region where the Ecumenical Patriarchate is located. It could, therefore, be claimed that their presence at the Orthodox Centre of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Chambésy, Switzerland signifies, in a certain way, a return to their natural environment.”

The catalogue presents all the exhibits accompanied by texts written by Dr Anna Ballian, Curator of the Exhibition and Senior Curator of the Islamic and Post-Byzantine Collection of the Benaki Museum.

The ground floor of the Christian Art Museum hosts the photography exhibition entitled ‘Fred Boissonnas: The Sinai Expeditions, 1929-1933’, organised under the aegis of the Saint Catherine Foundation and the Ligatus Research Centre, University of the Arts London, which presents 68 photographs from the visits of the great Swiss photographer to the Saint Catherine’s Monastery in Sinai.

Professor Oriana Baddeley, from the CCW Graduate School (Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon), University of the Arts London, who curated the exhibition, states, among other, in the exhibition’s bilingual catalogue that:

“The Sinai Expeditions were the photographer's last great project and, as with the late work of many artists, it serves to encapsulate a lifetime of professional knowledge and experimentation, distilling his overall philosophy on life and art. Fred Boissonnas’s Sinai Expeditions are a journey to an artist’s vision of the world beyond the surface of things.”

The event was also attended and greeted by Mr Ioannis Mourikis, Greek Ambassador in Switzerland.

Moreover, His Eminence Metropolitan Athanasios of Chalkidona, His Grace Bishop of Lampsacus Makarios, Mr Jean Marc Mermoud, Mayor of Chambésy, members of the Latsis family, Ms Emilia Geroulanou, President of the Benaki Museum, Mr Angelos Delivorrias, Director of the Benaki Museum, Ms Irene Geroulanou, Deputy Director of the Benaki Museum and many members of the Greek Community of Geneva honoured the inauguration ceremony with their presence.


Note to journalists:

The Orthodox Centre of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Chambésy, Geneva was founded in 1966. Its multidimensional mission covers a broad range of statutory activities, aimed at fully supporting inter-orthodox and inter-ecclesiastical relations, such as: supporting the official, bilateral and multilateral, Theological Dialogues of Orthodoxy with the rest of the Christian world, ensuring the effective operation of the Centre’s Secretariat, in order to prepare the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church, regularly convening international Theological Seminars and Conferences, ensuring the smooth operation of the Postgraduate Institute of Orthodox Theology, initiating academic Inter-religious Dialogues with Judaism and Islam, properly promoting its activities through multilingual, aesthetically appealing, periodic or self-standing theological publications and, in general, willingly participating in any ecumenical dialogue initiative for the unity of Christians.

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