Museum of Folk Art (Moussio Laikis Tehnis)

Museum of Folk Art (Moussio Laikis Tehnis) (2)

The idea of visiting a museum of folk art pieces and examples of decorative arts might not initially seem particularly attractive, but you will be surprised to learn that the Museum of Folk Art has one of the most impressive collections in Greece.

Fabrics, carvings in different types of wood, a spectacular array of costumes, puppets from time immemorial or an amazing collection of ceramics are just some of the pieces on display on the five floors of the museum devoted to Greek crafts and traditions.

If you thought that costumes were a thing of superheroes and princesses, wait until you see the third floor of this building. Not only will you find theatrical costumes, the origins of which lie in the festivals held in honour of Dionysus, but also pieces worn in ancient times during the rituals of soil fertility, health and prosperity, or during other religious celebrations and sacrifices. Perhaps the textile collections are the main attraction of the Museum of Folk Art, which does not just include the wide range of costumes.

Regional costumes of impossible shapes and colours, from many very different areas of the Peloponnese and of the Aegean islands, fill the displays of the third-floor exhibition rooms and the mezzanine.

An example of these is the lovely embroidery produced using different techniques and materials, from silk thread, lamb's wool, cotton or goat's hair to gold, silver and fibres from certain exotic plants.

The accessories sections from the best shopping centres in the world fall short next to the bizarre assortment of accessories that can be seen here. Elaborate jewels shining brightly through the glass, belts decorated with silver and carved in metal or pins inlaid with coral and turquoise are just some of the outstanding examples of a long list of exhibits.

In the metalwork section, which is also in the mezzanine, copper, steel, pewter, bronze and iron items can be found, decorated to an exquisite level of delicacy. On the second floor is all of the religious silverware, such as crucifixes and chalices, and secular pieces, such as weapons. 

Wood carvings and ceramics, terracotta and glazes are applied and decorative arts that extensively on display in this museum as a varied example of Greek splendour and wealth. Seeing the chimneys, saucepans or ladles on display here, no one would say that they are objects of such everyday use.

If you visit the museum, do not miss one of its main attractions: the shadow puppet theatre. Imported from the East during the time of the Ottoman Empire, these are jointed figurines made of painted cardboard that evoked myths and legends and recreated scenes of everyday life, sometimes making fun of politicians. These pieces have been perfectly preserved, especially considering the fragility of the material from which they are made.

So, if you think that it is only worth visiting the ruins and archaeological museums in Greece, stop and think twice and give this museum a chance.

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