Marina Lambraki Plaka, director of the National Gallery of the Alexandros Soutzos Museum, passed away on he morning of Monday, June 13.
Her death came two days before the planned press conference where she would have presented the large retrospective exhibition of Konstantinos Parthenis she had prepared.
Marina Lambraki Plaka was born in Arkalochori, Heraklion, Crete. She married at the age of 17 the philologist Dimitris Plakas. She studied at the Department of History and Archeology of the University of Athens and did postgraduate studies in Classical Archeology on the subject of “Prosocratic Philosophy and Art”.
Thanks to a scholarship, she completed her postgraduate studies in History and Sociology of Art at the Sorbonne University and in 1973 she received a “State Doctoral Diploma” entitled: Bourdel and Greece. In 1975 she was elected unanimously professor at the Chair of Art History of the Athens School of Fine Arts.
“I’ve spent my whole life in art and near the artists I adore and deeply respect” she said in an interview to Greek Business File, in January 2021.
She was the first female teacher in the history of the School of Fine Arts of Greece. She has taught as a visiting professor at foreign universities in France, the USA and at the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Crete.
“The National Gallery will become the home of all Greeks”, because “Art is the privilege of many” were some of the titles of the first interviews she gave when she took office in January 1992.
During her tenure as president of the National Gallery 3,000 new works were acquired, including two paintings by Theotokopoulos (El Greco) and important exhibitions of foreign and Greek artists were organized, attracting more than five million visitors.
In the interview to Greek Business File, Marina Lambraki Plaka said:
“In my life I have adopted the slogan of the May ’68 in Paris. If you aim for what I call creative utopia, if you do not bend from the inevitable difficulties, if you work systematically and at the same time keep your enthusiasm undiminished and if you manage to convey it to key people for the success of your goal, you will surely reach the coveted result. From the first moment I took up my duties as director of the National Gallery, I realized that the building that housed the treasures of modern Greek art no longer met any of the operating conditions of a modern museum. My personal bet was to make a strategic plan to upgrade and promote the dynamics of the Gallery, as if we had at our disposal the most modern museum. Besides, we managed to renovate the building in 2000, the year the Gallery celebrated its 100th anniversary, which allowed us to brilliantly exhibit the rich collections, sponsored by the Niarchos Foundation, and to develop an amazing exhibition activity, which brought five and a half million Greeks to the museum.”
Marina Lambraki Plaka also proceeded to the establishment of new Gallery branches: the Nafplio Branch, which is dedicated to the Greek Revolution; the branch in Corfu and the Kapralos Museum in Aegina.
“One of the most important achievements of my term of office I believe is the creation of the National Sculpture Gallery in Goudi, which provided a solution to the chronic problem of housing the collections of modern Greek sculpture” she told Greek Business File.