Even visitors not normally drawn to local folk costumes will be impressed by this new museum in Kalamata that is a true labor of love.
The Museum of Traditional Greek Costumes is a cultural gem born of the passion, perseverance and dedication of one woman in particular. Collector and donor Victoria Karelia is the President of the Lyceum of Greek Women of Kalamata, and the museum is a result of her efforts.
The costumes and their various components narrate the history of local folk dress from the mid-18th to early-20th century, combining modern stage design and an exemplary use of sound and light. The signs describing the displays have been replaced by touch screens that make the experience interactive and enjoyable. Each day, the guestbook is filled with praise from Greek and foreign visitors alike following their fascinating introduction to the cultural heritage of this region in the Peloponnese.
A lifelong dream
The museum is the result of a lifelong dream for Karelia, 45 years of effort to be exact. It is one of the largest folk costume collections in Greece and came about through a combination of local women who recreated each costume stitch by stitch and professional tailors who scoured towns and villages for pieces.
At 64 Stadiou street, we are welcomed into a building remarkably restored by architect Thanassis Kyratsou, who has restored monuments such as the Church of Trinita dei Mondi, the Palazzo Madama and the Villa Medici in Rome. The space is abstract, devoid of any decorative element that could compete with the main attraction – the costumes themselves.
Black is the color that dominates, the tall climate-controlled glass cases bring the costumes to life with subtle moving mechanisms, and the costumes and accessories glow under the exemplary lighting designed by Eleftheria Deko. The evocative soundscape created specifically for the museum by award-winning composer Dimitris Bakas further enhances the experience.
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