“The new type of economy for us is the export of culture, talent, creativity and therefore the stimulation of museum tourism,” underlines in an interview to “In-On” magazine the director of the Epigraphical and Numismatic Museum, Dr. George Kakavas, archaeologist-Art historian.
Question: Tell us about the role of Museum Tourism
Answer: Museum Tourism is one of the most dynamic aspects of the country’s heavy industry. A place with a unique cultural profile and many ethnic particularities like Greece, with a long and glorious history, with forms of art that have put their mark on mankind, with a kind of contemporary culture that is one of the most innovative in the world, must be the protagonist of Museum Tourism worldwide. Functional, dynamic, interactive museums and archaeological sites are one and only in almost every corner of the country. Therefore, let us support their actions since their contribution to the state economy and the local communities is crucial and lucrative. Indeed, the challenges do not stop. It is realized now that “when the flow of funds is limited as far as culture is concerned, social cohesion, progress or encouraging creativity are threatened and eventually our identity itself is also threatened”. The new type of economy for us is the exportation of culture, talent, creativity and thus the boost of Museum Tourism.
Question: What are the new plans for the development of the Museum?
Answer: The prospects ahead of us are directly proportional to our efforts, which we keep on having a fighting spirit, methodology and consistency. It is fundamental to attract new audience, stimulate the interest of our faithful friends, enrich our collections, organize or co-organize new exhibitions and cultural events, which in turn will contribute to the increase of visitor turnout and the extroversion of the Museum to the public.
We anticipate and envision Ilion Melathron be a favorite destination and a complete museum experience for all Greeks and all those who do not live in Greece but share the Greek education and ideals. We anticipate and envision visits from families and young scientists. We anticipate and envision a museum alive and bright full of foreign tourists who visit our country every year. We anticipate and envision a lucrative Public Museum as an integral part of the modern history of our country and our city. We anticipate and envision the Epigraphical and Numismatic Museum to play a leading role in the society and education.
Overall, we envision and expect to win together the bet for a better city life, nowadays that our virtues are tested hard and also keep the values of humanism upstanding and intact from the undeclared war that tries to harm us. Dignity, solidarity and offer are for us ways for crisis management, which has plagued both the country and our society.
Question: Give us the profile of the Numismatic Museum
Answer: The Numismatic Museum is one of the oldest public museums in Greece. It was established in 1834, shortly after the National Liberation Front (EAM) After many adventures and transfers Numismatic Museum is now permanently hosted in Ilion Melathron. Ilion Melathron (Palace of Troy) was the name of the house of the great German archaeologist and father of prehistoric archeology Heinrich Schliemann, The building was the work of the famous architect Ernest Ziller. It was constructed during 1878-1880 and was inaugurated with great splendor and solemnity on the 30th of January, 1881. Since 1998, Ilion Melathron, probably the most emblematic neoclassical Athens, constitutes the cozy cradle for the exceptional collections of the Numismatic Museum.
The exhibits of the Numismatic Museum are more than 600.000 and cover in a unique way the history of economy and currency from the 14th century BC until today. Among the treasures presented in the permanent exhibition and the collections of Ilion Melathron, there are talants and ovelos, ancient Greek coins, weights and miniatures such as seals, Roman coins of both the Republic and the Imperium, Byzantine and medieval coins and seals made of lead and well as the famous medals of the Renaissance and the modern and contemporary coins. The Museum is one of the richest of its kind worldwide and also a very special institution. And while its permanent exhibition covers with unique precision the timelessness of currency from pre-coin era till the present day, innovative temporary exhibitions showing specific themes continually attract new audiences.
More particularly, the museum is a meeting point for international monetary research. It is also a currency service center as well as for medals and stamps and a spot where educational programs and cultural events can take place.
Ilion Melathron is a unique combination where museum treasures coexist in a historic building and applying a dynamic extrovert policy, a wise observer of city life preserves memory and makes up new stories. Not only Cleo, the Muse of history but also the rest of the Muses of Arts and Sciences are in a constant dialog in Ilion Melathron, with its various cultural events that function as a window to optimism for our long-suffering society. Regarding the challenges that will be brought by the new era, the Numismatic Museum responds with novel inspiration and new material, as well as with a dynamic presence in society, economy and culture. Money is the most dynamic factor of economy, through which the essence of economic activity is expressed behind the social changes and behavior of people. Societies of all times considered economic activity as a starting point and also as a key component, since the structure of any society is based on money allocation. The behavior of people towards money and currency, over time, remains more or less the same as far as the basic functions of money are concerned. In other words, it is a common measure of value of various goods and services, either through transactions or as a means to save and preserve property. In today’s dire global economic reality, where the expression “economic crisis” is in everyone’s minds when coins in times of change and crisis are tested hard and inflation, depreciation and devaluation are proved timeless economic phenomena.
Question: Tell us about the etymology of the word “nomisma” (coin)?
Answer: The world coin (nomisma) etymologically derives from the Ancient Greek word “nomos” which means law. It refers to a sealed coin-like piece of metal that has a fixed and determinate weight. The issuing authority guaranteed the weight and the maximum metal purity-especially its precious elements-and the seals on both sides made it “valuable” to trade within its territory.
The profits that the control of this process brought, were by no means insignificant. The spread of the coin and not the invention itself is perhaps due to this reason.
According to Aristotle “the use of currency was invented out of necessity because not all the necessaries were given to man by nature. Therefore, it was agreed that a useful and handy commodity such as iron, silver and the like was to be used in the transactions. Initially, the size and the weight were set but finally the coins were sealed so as to avoid weighting since the seal declared the amount”.
Question: What was the role of the stamp on ancient coins?
Answer: Sealing and its supporting techniques are universal, timeless and inter cultural. The human fingerprint, the statement of the human identity and uniqueness, gradually gave way to objects that had the same purpose. Each owner had their own personal stamp for recognition purposes, rank or profession. Using seals they stamped their property and also ensured their goods during storage and transportation. With charms or jewelry human vanity was satisfied, fears were calmed and interpersonal relationships were confirmed. The seals are tiny negative sculptures, carved in semiprecious stones, gold, ivory or clay or by the technique of casting paste and faience into glass. They already appeared in the early Neolithic period, indicating the social links between communities, while during Bronze Age seals determined hierarchy and personal property. The Minoan and Mycenaean gems and gold signet rings were the symbols of royal power and royal identity.
In the exhibition “Stamping History”: Treasures from Greek Museums’, rare, most peculiar and unique objects were exhibited that left their mark in history, either in the form of portraits of its protagonists, either as direct sources of major historical and political events or as universal social, religious and cultural concepts and values. The exhibition was held in the archaeological museums of Plovdiv and Sofia in Bulgaria from November 7, 2013 until February 9, 2014.