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Byzantization of Slavs started from Thessaloniki

02 June 2015 / 13:06:48  GRReporter
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In 2005, the Museum of Byzantine Civilization was given the award for best museum in Europe, a distinction which until then no other Greek museum had managed to gain. This success was not owed just to one individual but was collective, belonging to all those working in all of the specialist fields. I too took part in this team, something which made me feel proud and which I have included in my CV in standout type. For many years we made up a close-knit team which worked together with a common purpose and fraternal feeling, as we were instructed to do by the first and fondly remembered director of the museum, Ms. Eftichia Kourkoutidou-Nikolaïdou, in effect a second mother for many of us.

The load which all the employees and specialists bear is terrific and must be faced every day with devotion and respect.  As almost always is the case, some contribute and others take and continue to be slackers. However, that must not become a limiting factor for the required developments in research, study and promotion. As ever, the maestro will turn his back on the public during the entire duration of a concert, strongly emphasizing that he is leading the orchestra, and only after the conclusion will he turn to face the audience and receive its applause.
Going back to the subject of the conference you asked about, Thessaloniki fortunately has at its disposal a number of varying cultural venues, where different cultural activities can be staged.

What other activities and investigations figure in your future plans?

"If you don't find spring, you make it," wrote [the poet] Odysseas Elytis. The best way for someone to forecast their future is to create it. I do not worry that the end of the world might happen today, because already tomorrow has dawned on the other side of the planet.

For the present, I am engaged systematically in the completion of my postgraduate thesis at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.  I would not yet like to give more details, since it concerns the study of a unique early-Christian culture, which I study by means of a private collection, perhaps the largest of its kind.

In 2006, following an invitation from Professor Angelos Chaniotis, I was hosted at All Souls College in Oxford. There I was initiated into a major programme which he had prepared about emotions in the ancient world. The programme received a generous financial sponsorship from the European Union and proceeded at a rapid pace. I confess that I was jealous. He had not told me, and neither did I understand by myself, that he had already chosen me as a member of the team and moreover in one of the best sections. The overall purpose is that, upon completion of the research, an exhibit be mounted in New York, specifically at the Onassis Foundation, accompanied of course by an international conference. I will not disclose anything further, since this entire project is the exclusive creation of Professor Chaniotis and I believe that I do not have the right to say anything more.

In terms of the future of the museum, perhaps for the first time after 25 years of working there, I do not know. Everything will depend on the present, which is taking shape on a daily basis.  That which I am in a position to be aware of is an exhibit which the conservators of antiquities and artworks in the museum have readied for autumn 2015, to make evident the difficult path followed by an ancient artefact from its excavation to the exhibiting spaces of every museum.

For some, culture is quantitative, but for others, among whom I consider myself, qualitative. The number of exhibits, activities and events has no significance without substance and content, as what is important is the validity and prestige which these have and above all that which is documented as the heritage of the wider culture. Neither opening ceremonies, salutations nor fine words create culture. Development for the sake of development is the philosophy of the cancerous cell.

Quality does not derive from the money you have at your disposal as a foundation, but primarily from knowledge, diligence and an open mind. I reckon that the era of the one-man show has long since passed, and those who continue to believe that they can do everything and indeed successfully, overestimate themselves.

Tags: Panagiotis KambanisByzantine Museum of ThessalonikiCyril and MethodiusCreation of the alphabetCyrillicGlagoliticSlavsByzantiumZdravka Mihaylova
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