State Museum of Contemporary Art
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Once upon a time, there was a man whose name was George Costakis. He was a soviet chauffeur (later – the staff member of the Canadian Embassy) who worked at the Greek Embassy. He was one enchanted by the world of collecting the objects of art. Thus began the history of the State Museum of Contemporary Art in Thessaloniki.

Why is the museum worth visiting?

Costakis started to collect Russian avant-garde paintings in the late 1940s. In the 1970s, he moved to Greece with his family and took a part of his collection. The rest of the works were given to the Tretyakov Gallery. After the death of Costakis, the Greek state bought a part of his collection and placed it into the State Museum of Contemporary Art in Thessaloniki. The building opened its doors for visiting in 1997.

One might as well say that this partial collection (including over 1.200 paintings) became the blueprint for establishing a museum in Greece. Since those times, the collection has been continuously replenished with new items. The museum arranges traveling exhibitions: the paintings have already visited Spain, Germany, and France.

The modern State Museum of Contemporary Art features temporary and regular expositions, arranges musical, theatrical, and educational events, and cooperates with top museums of the world.

Permanent exhibition

The collection of the State Museum of Contemporary Art reflects all tendencies in the development of Russian (and not just that) Avantgarde – one of the most exciting periods in the history of world art, flourishing during the first decades of the XX century. The agreement about the purchase of the collection of Costakis was signed between the members of his family and the administration of the museum under the support of an international group of experts, which evaluated the economic and artistic value of the collection, by highlighting its authenticity and uniqueness.

At present, visitors have an opportunity to see the paintings of the following prominent artists:

  • Ioannis Avramidis;
  • Ivan Kliun;
  • Varvara Stepanova;
  • Kazimir Malevich;
  • Wassily Kandinsky;
  • Marc Chagall.

The museum exhibits sculptures and paintings, obtained in 1997 after the recognition of Thessaloniki as the cultural capital of Europe. Some of the art works were given by the artists in person. The museum also houses a separate exhibition, dedicated to George Costakis. There are also a lot of artworks created in the course of workshops, installations, and graphics.

Getting around

The former Monastery of Lazariston, housing the State Museum of Contemporary Art of Thessaloniki, was reconstructed to become a museum in the future. You can find contemporary art exhibitions in the basement area and within three floors as well. They cover 1.400 square meters in total. You can use the information boards in the halls to navigate within the building.

There are eight halls in the museum. The exhibit items are set in chronological order. Some of the temporal exhibitions take place within the area of the former Warehouse B1 on the promenade of Thessaloniki. The warehouses serve as the exhibition space for the state Museum of Contemporary Art.

The State Museum of Contemporary Art occupies the renovated building of a monastery in Stavroupoli, one of the suburban areas of Thessaloniki. You can get here by bus №34. It leaves at Aristotelous Square. You will need to get off the bus at the stop Moni Lazariston. After that, take a short 300-meter walk to reach this destination.


  • The fans of art are highly recommended to visit the library of the museum. It counts almost 4.000 books of different categories: history, virtual art, sculpture, architecture, design, art reproduction, oil painting, decorative elements in architecture, movie art, and photography.
  • Pay attention: the working hours of the exhibition halls might change depending on the expositions. A few days before the opening of a new exhibition, the museum closes to prepare for it. You should regularly check the schedule at the official website.
  • You can hardly find the museum overcrowded as it sits far from Thessaloniki city center. You can freely visit it at any time.
  • Visitors are allowed to take pictures inside the museum.