The Maria Callas Museum, expected to open its doors in the summer of 2023, as already announced by the Mayor of Athens, Kostas Bakoyannis, is housed in a beautiful neoclassical building at 44 Mitropoleos Streetin the “heart” of Athens. The building belongs to the City of Athens and will be refurbished according to the most modern museological standards. The museum will present valuable historical material, audio documents, rare live recordings, a unique collection of records and personal items of the great soprano. In addition – in line with the new emerging trends – it will offer a unique experiential experience, being the first museum in the world dedicated to the International Greek soprano. The museum aspires to become an international pole of attraction for Diva’s fans worldwide.
Yesterday, during the General Assembly of the “Maria Callas Scholarship Association”, at the Music Library of the Athens Concert Hall, Konstantinos and ViktoriaPilarinos (President and Member of the Association, respectively) donated 50 unique objects of Maria Callas from their personal collection, whishing to enrich the Museum’s collection.
The magnificent donationincludes personal items of Callas herself – such as her handwritten journal from school, nine honorary medals and a 1961 diploma from the City of Athens, dresses and accessories from her performances and personal life, books and scores with her notes, photographs and portraits, as well as other rare historical relics.
During the donation ceremony, the Mayor of Athens, Kostas Bakoyannis, stated: “I feel proud not only because Athens is honouring the great Diva with a unique museum to be inaugurated next summer, but also because the number of exhibits grows thanks to this touching gesture. I am grateful to Konstantinos and Victoria Pilarinos. Having had the good fortune to know the great artist, they wanted to donate her personal items and give us a glimpse into Maria Callas’ personality. It is an even greater honour for us because, although MrPilarinos and his family had received many tempting offers from Paris, New York and other major cities for this collection, they chose Athens to donate this precious material. We are proud to enrich the Museum, honouring our promise for Athens and the country. In the summer of 2023, the precious objects we have received today from the Pilarinos family will form one of the most important collections of the newly established Museum”.
Mr Costas Pilarinos, for his part, stressed: “This Collection was protected for 45 years, with much effort, respect and love, and today it is handed over to the City of Athens for the Museum, to be used in the best possible way. Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis’ effort to create this unique Museum sparked this donation on our part. Furthermore, the safe and dignified management of the Collection by the Technopolis of the Municipality of Athens was an additional and substantial incentive for us.”
The City of Athens acquired the first objects for the Museum’s Collection in 2000 through its participation in an international auction in Paris. Subsequently, the Collection was enriched by donations belonging to or relating to Maria Callas, which the City of Athens received from various institutions and individuals from Greece and abroad.
Apart from the Pilarinos family donation, the City of Athens has received additional ones from dozens of individuals and institutions. To mention but a few: Hellenic Folklore Historical Archive, Athenaeum, National Opera, Maria Callas Greek Society, Hellenic Post, Victory Media, Aeolos, Psychogios, Elix, Electra, Swarovski, Kastaniotis, Anatolikos and Zacharopoulos publishing houses, FotisPapathanasiou, MrsEleniDaniilidouSkourli, the artists Natalia Mela, Sotiris Sorogas, AlekosFassianos, DimitrisMytharas, DimitrisSkoulakis, PanagiotisTetsis, Nikos Giannis, Stathopoulos Georgios, TzanoulinosPraxitelis and ERT, SKAI, Warner Classics, TeatroallaScala, Metropolitan Opera, The Dallas Opera House, Arena di Verona, Teatro la Fenice and MrCosimoCapanni, Apart from their donations, the Athens Conservatory, Athenaeum, the Hellenic Folklore Historical Archive, and the archive of Nikos DiomedesPetsalis have lent some rare objects to be exhibited in the Museum.
These objects will significantly enrich the museum narrative that aims to shed light on Callas’ artistic career and personality, functioning as a reminder to the older generations and inspiring the younger ones.
The Municipality of Athens, honouring the historical “Maria Callas Scholarship Association”, founded by the artist herself in 1963, in the context of a broader practical, cultural support to the opera, offers an annual scholarship to opera students and one performance per year at the Olympia, City Music Theatre “Maria Callas.”.