The Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum (ILJM) is the only jewelry museum in Greece. Its cultural and educational mission is devoted to the promotion of ancient and contemporary silver and goldsmithery, studio jewelry and the traditional decorative arts. It is a nonprofit cultural organization certified by the Greek Ministries of Finance and of Culture in 1993. The ILJMuseum is not government funded. The Museum strives to act as an international center for the continuation of traditional crafts, especially the ancient art of silver and goldsmithery. In its twenty years of operation over 70 temporary exhibitions have been organized in Greece and abroad. 1200 specialized educational programs have reached over 80,000 children and 70,000 adults. Its future agenda includes introducing new educational methods of art and culture education through fun and inspirational activities for both children and adults. Collaborations with museums and educational institutions are advanced to promote the art of jewelry and new creativity of traditional and decorative arts.
The ILJM opened its doors to the public in 1994. The impetus behind the formation of the ILJM was the need to house and display over 4,500 original designs of jewelry and microsculpture created by Greek designer, academician and entrepreneur Ilias Lalaounis (1920-2013) in a contemporary establishment. The visitor’s experience is a live educational demonstration of the history of art, with audiovisual material and hands on experience. The Museum houses the founder’s extensive archive, which dates from 1940 and encompasses models, drawings, photo archives, and old goldsmithery tools and machinery. The research library is the richest in Greece with jewelry publications; it includes art publications, periodicals, auction catalogues, and art history publications. It also includes rare editions such as Heinrich Schliemann’s Ilios (1881), which served as a source of inspiration for one of Lalaounis’s most celebrated collections Ilion (1983).
Cultural programs are the heart of the ILJM’s agenda, and have been so from the early days of the Museum’s existence. Lectures, seminars, workshops for children and adults, specially designed guided tours, programs for disabled individuals and activities for underprivileged youth are an inextricable part of the ILJM’s agenda. Cultural events have been organized and carried out to introduce the public to the wonders of archaeology, art history and the essence of the decorative arts.
A veritable gem of a Museum—housed in a period building from the 1930’s set on the south side of the Acropolis, in the heart of the city’s historical centre and now next to the new Acropolis Museum—the ILJM has become a must destination for tourists in Athens. The ILJM receives all government official guests, acting as an "ambassador" for Greek cultural heritage. Guests are introduced to the contemporary wonders of a successful Greek businessman, while discovering the history of ancient Greek art from Prehistory to Byzantium. The Museum’s treasured collections illustrate the immense potential synergy between ancient goldsmithery and international contemporary jewelry design in the creation of a potent cultural product.
In its 20 years of operation the ILJM has hosted over 70 temporary exhibitions. In-house exhibitions focus on international museum jewelry and decorative arts collections such as Argentinian silver, Murano Glass, French Boxes of the 19th c., Pocket Watches from the 16th century until today, Scandinavian contemporary jewelry; private collections such as Ethnic jewelry from North Africa and Asia, American Costume jewelry, Rare Lighters, Greek Traditional Bullet Cases and many more unique works of art. Works from the Museum’s storage form important retrospective traveling exhibitions at such musuems as Pushkin Museum, Onassis Foundation New York, and National Museum of Art of Romania. Individual works from the permanent collections travel often to international museum exhibitions. The ILJM curatorial department also designs new exhibitions of decorative arts to be presented in Athens with the option to travel internationally such as Highlights: Haute Couture and Historic Jewelry.
Kallisperi 12 & Karyatidon St,
11742 Athens, Greece
Phone: +30 210-9221044
Find out more about ILJM's Ioanna Lalaounis by reading their 2016 interview on AJF.