The museum with the 50.000 objects of the great Nikos Kazantzakis
An unexpected "treasure" in Crete
Nikos Kazantzakis Museum
Myrtia is a small village in Crete, in the prefecture Heraklion, at a distance of about 15 km from the capital of the prefecture and 10 km from Archaeological site of Knossos. It is built at an altitude of 365 meters, while previously it was known as "Barbarians" - for which there are various versions. Its inhabitants are mainly engaged in agriculture, cultivating vines and olives.
At first sight, therefore, it is not of particular interest, compared to the other villages of the prefecture. However, there is a specific element that differentiates it from them, making it unique.
A walk in the streets is enough to raise suspicions about its diversity and uniqueness. The visitor, therefore, is welcomed here by figures from Captain Michalis and Zorba, painted on the walls of the low houses of the village.
And if this is not enough to reveal the "secret" of Myrtia, a look at the names of the streets, and especially the central one, may solve the "mystery": it is dedicated to Nikos Kazantzakis, as well as the central square of the village. It is, therefore, the place of origin, on the part of his father, the greatest Greek writer of modern times.
Those who, however, ask for more information to understand the value of Myrtia, as long as they know that in its central square there is a Museum dedicated to his life and work. Nikos Kazantzakis, created in order to preserve the memory of the author and to promote his work nationally and globally.
A place of "memory" and "pilgrimage" for the great and versatile Greek thinker, who with his way of life and thinking, but also through his rich and invaluable work, is an inspiration to many. The museum has been operating since 1983, and has a rich, rare and valuable material.
The Museum and its founder
Its foundation, therefore, is due to George Anemogiannis - set designer - costume designer by profession from the pioneers in Greece in his field - while the offer of Eleni Kazantzaki, second wife of Nikos Kazantzakis was also important.
"I do not envy Kazantzakis who found and perched, I envy Anemogiannis who has to build nests in the high branches", wrote an old Cretan about Mr. Anemogiannis in the guest book.
The space where the Museum Today it was re-formed into a two-storey building, at the place where the paternal home of the Anemogiannis family used to be - a family that had family ties with Captain Michalis, the father of Nikos Kazantzakis.
A rather large two-storey house with traditional architectural elements, in which Captain Michalis lived for some years, while Nikos Kazantzakis was also hosted in it many times.
Mr. Anemogiannis's rather bold and ambitious inspiration for the establishment of the Museum came in 1975, when he acquired ownership of the building, while the inauguration of the museum took place, a few years later, on June 27, 1983 in the presence of the then Minister of Culture and Personal friend of Anemogiannis and the Kazantzakis couple, Melina Mercouri.
In fact, the names of a great intellectual confrontation were also present, such as Odysseas Elytis and Kimon Friar (the translator of the work "Odyssey" into English).
2009 is also a milestone year for the Museum, as with the co-financing of the European Union, the radical renovation of the building where the Permanent Exhibition, during which the space acquired the image of a modern and dynamic museum.
It became, therefore, more easily accessible to the disabled, it was equipped with technological means, it was modernized and enriched with additional "Kazantzaki" acquisitions.
Along with the renovation of the building, new activities were launched such as the operation of a digital library, electronic and printed publications and educational programs.
The collections and the permanent exhibition
For the creation of the Museum, Mr. Anemogiannis started a great research which lasted for years, with a lot of perseverance and patience, and as he used to say "with the perseverance that should characterize passionate collectors and with the inexhaustible stubbornness of those who want to achieve a goal ".
With organized thought and purpose, the "odyssey" of collecting material took shape, sending him more than 3.000 letters to every corner of the globe in search of anything related to Nikos Kazantzakis to close friends and relatives. , second-hand bookstores, archives, libraries, etc.
Thus, his effort bore fruit, and more specifically a, invaluable, collection with 50.000 items, which come from both Greece and abroad.
Between them first editions and original texts published in literary magazines and newspapers, manuscripts, albums, heirlooms, objects and souvenirs from his travels, stage models and costumes from performances of his works, rare audiovisual material, letters and personal belongings of Nikos Kazantzakis.
As another experienced museologist, without having the corresponding studies and knowledge, Mr. Anemogiannis managed to organize and classify this huge volume of material, which today is the "property" of the Museum, and the Nikos Kazantzakis Foundation, which is now behind the operation of the Museum.
The 50.000 items were sorted into categories divided into different categories such as: Letters, Holographs-Autographs, Publications-Articles-Studies, Press Releases, Photos, Audio Documents, Animation Items, Theatrical Material, Works of Art, Personal Objects Visiting the Museum today is a real source of inspiration.
"There are no ideas, there are only people who carry ideas, and they take the boy of the man who carries them," said the great Greek thinker. Something that seems to apply to the founder of the Museum - Mr. Anemogiannis passed away in 2005 - who envisioned, designed and carried out a large and quite difficult effort, which is a real legacy for the whole of Greece.