Greece’s historic Benaki Museum could soon open an additional “satellite” location in the heart of Melbourne, Australia, which has the highest Greek population in the world for a city outside Greece or Cyprus.
According to a report from The Sydney Morning Herald, a $175 million USD planning application was submitted in September to the local government. The application proposes that Melbourne’s 143-year-old Land Titles Office be converted to the new Greek museum — in partnership with the local Hellenic Museum.
Benaki is the largest and oldest private museum in Greece founded by art collector Antonis Benakis in memory of his father Emmanouil. The institution currently operates 10 locations in Athens including the Museum of Greek Culture, Museum of Islamic Art, Yannis Pappas Studio, Ghika Gallery, Valadoros Collection and others.
Melbourne’s proposed “satellite” museum would include a public atrium, rooftop terrace, 10,800 square foot touring hall for international displays and a new entrance.
In 2013, the Hellenic Museum entered into a landmark 10-year agreement with the Benaki Museum. The partnership includes a long loan of part of Benaki’s collection and co-commissioning new works including a series entitled “ONEIROI” by renowned Australian photographer Bill Henson.
The proposed museum would cost approximately $175 million USD while the museum space and $32.2 million USD restoration costs would be subsidized by the 29-story commercial tower behind and above it.
Heritage Victoria, the Victorian state government’s principal cultural heritage agency, has yet to issue a decision on the Benaki Museum application. But if approved, construction could begin in 2021 and conclude by 2024.
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