Central Building Shop
The Central Building Shop of the Benaki Museum began with the production and sale of faithful reproductions of the museum exhibits. Selected through numerous exhibits, representative samples with enduring value are reproduced in such a way as to reflect the respect and responsibility that distinguishes the museum.
In this way, the "dissemination" of museum objects is achieved through their reproduction of excellent quality and the distribution of replicas in numerous recipients. These accurate and faithful reproductions can easily be acquired by the public both in Greece and abroad. It is also indicative that among the shop’s most loyal customers are the Greek state, the Church of Greece, ministries, embassies, banks and prominent organisations.
Another, equally important, goal of the Museum Shop is the preservation of traditional techniques that are dying out, and supporting the craftsmen that use them. For example, the icons sold in the Shop are painted using the techniques of Byzantine artists –egg tempera, natural earth pigments and polished, pure gold leaf. Many of the fabrics used are woven on a loom, while some of the embroideries are made by hand; the jewellery is made by craftsmen who use techniques that are mostly lost these days.
The Museum collaborates with many workshops, approximately 100 all over Greece, such as jewellery workshops in Yiannena, ceramics in Aegina and Skopelos, embroideries in northern Greece, etc., creating a relationship of trust and respect with them.
In addition, from very early on, the Shop paved the way for young designers and creators of applied arts. It was a new approach that was established by the Benaki Museum as a source of inspiration, and by the Shop as a field in which many young designers and creators could express themselves. Traditional techniques, and the Museum’s exhibits, become the starting point to create modern items which are inspired and at times whimsical. The works by designers are accompanied by a description in two languages that includes information on the creator, and the technique used.