There’s more to the Greek Islands than beaches. Among the 200 islands scattered in the Aegean and Ionian seas, many are riddled with ancient churches, historical museums, and lively nightclubs. But for those looking for something completely different, these islands are also home to several modern galleries. Whether run by a private foundation or independently operated, there are a surprising (but hidden) number of contemporary art spaces on the Greek islands. Here are some of the top ones.
Mykonos, which was a posh paradise in the 1960s (it was a vacation destination of Jackie Onassis), now draws celebrities such as Ariana Grande, Lindsay Lohan, and Leonardo DiCaprio. On the main strip, there’s a converted home called Dio Horia, now an art space. Inside, the living room and kitchen have been turned into an art gallery and bookshop, while upstairs there’s a residency space for visiting artists. Dio Hora has a second gallery in Athens.
Just an hour ferry ride from Mykonos, Paros — in the heart of the Cyclades — is a dream for nature lovers. It has a monastery atop a mountain and great hiking trails. There’s also a ton of history here. The Archaeological Museum, within the island’s main village of Parikia, is more than just artifacts. Expect to see rotating art shows that feature young Greek artists alongside international stars every summer.
The small island of Antiparos is just a short trip from Paros. Famed for its archaeology, its stunning caves, and its secret submarine base during the Second World War, it’s also a holiday hideout for celebrities, including Madonna and Tom Hanks. One of the few art galleries on the island is a small space called Kastro, which is run by Swiss art dealer Eva Presenhuber, who organizes exhibitions every summer.
Sitting in the northern Aegean Sea, Lesvos — Greece’s third-largest island — is home to the famed Castle of Mytilene, a natural history museum, and a petrified forest that’s a protected national monument. It is also home to K-Gold Temporary Gallery, an art space founded by curator Nicolas Vamvouklis in 2014. Drop by the gallery to see cutting-edge digital art, futuristic sculptures, and a wide variety of photography. A selection of the work here is created by students of the Athens Fine Art School, which has an offsite residence for students at K-Gold, so the energy is young and fresh.
Hydra, one of the Saronic Islands, has a few notable art spaces. The historic Paleo Gymnasio on Lignou Street was a central hub during the Greek revolution of 1821, but local curator Dimitris Antonitsis took over the space in 2000 and has turned it into a place for contemporary art called Hydra School Project. Nearby, the Hydra Workshop is an exhibition space run by the British art collector and philanthropist Pauline Karpidas. It shows a different exhibition every summer, featuring young artists from across the globe.
This small island facing Turkey is home to Art Space Pythagorion, a modern gallery and former hotel. It features a theatre for screenings, studio spaces for artists, and a gallery space. There’s also the Pythagoras Academy, a startup summit founded to help drive the future of young businesses in Greece.
The small island, only a short ferry ride from Mykonos, is where the 19th century Greek sculptor Yannoulis Chalepas used to live and work. His former home and studio has been turned into a museum celebrating the late artist’s work. A short walk away from there is the Cultural Foundation of Tinos, a former neoclassical hotel. There, you’ll find modern art, plus exhibitions on the history and culture of Tinos. Group exhibitions are hosted every summer, some of which run until the end of the tourist season in October.
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