The library and its collections

The Library

A specialised visual arts library is in operation at the National Gallery. The library was created and developed in parallel with the museum, mainly to support the museum’s research and exhibition agenda and to serve the scientific staff. 

The initial  core of the library was the Alexandros Soutsos collection, which included old and rare publications. Alexandros Soutsos, lawyer and art lover, bequeathed his collection and  estate to the Greek State.

The library was later enriched with significant donations from both individuals, as well as institutions in Greece and abroad. You can access a catalogue of the donators of the library here.

The library consists of approximately 25.000 titles and journals, accessible through the Main Catalogue.

The bulk of the collection comprises monographs on Greek and international artists, exhibition catalogues, theory and historiography books mainly on Greek and European art, as well as books on museology, conservation, encyclopaedias and artist dictionaries.

The library's valuable publications are especially interesting. These include arists' books, rare art publications illustrated by engravings, as well as calendars and books illustrated by famous artists.

Art journals form a special department of the library's collection. The old and rare Greek Periodical titles include all major visual arts publications released in Athens since 1847. The collection of old journals includes 14 titles of English, French, Italian and German series published since 1831.

Today, the library subscribes to approximately 70 foreign-language and Greek periodical editions in print, and provides access to 150 electronic titles.

The library holds a collection of press cuttings with visual content- in print, from 1900 to 1996 -and, online, via the Internet, from 1999 to present. Articles from newspapers and magazines dating from 1900-1970 have been digitized and are available on the library web site under "digitized articles".

The library provides researchers access to the Art Price database, listing the art auctions by leading auction houses in Greece and abroad since 1987, while the period from 1958 to 1987 is largely covered by the collection of auction catalogues in printed form.

Approximately 500 CDs and 10 titles of digitized old Greek periodicals comprise the digital collection of the library.

Archival Collections

The National Gallery archives comprise series of documents concerning the history of the museum as well as the history of modern Greek art.

The series of documents concerning the operation of the museum comply to a 30 (or 50 as appropriate) year limit for turn over by the Administration to scientific personnel.

The bulk of the documents accessible to researchers concern the formation of the National Gallery’s collection and include documents relating to donations and bequests to the museum, art work acquisitions and meetings minutes of the museum’s governing bodies.

Artists’ personal archives, the Modern Greek Artist's Archive as well as individual sets of documents form the core of the other collections of documents in the National Gallery Archive.  You can access a catalogue of the private archives here.

The Archives also hold a collection of invitations and leaflets for art exhibitions, which documents the greatest part of artistic activity in Greece from the last quarter of the 19th century to the present day hence presenting  the scholar of the history of modern Greek artand with a valuable research tool. The largest part of the collection has been digitized and is accessible through the digital collections.

Photographic Archives

More than 70,000 photographs and negatives documenting the art works in and history of the National Gallery, as well as the history of modern Greek photography are to be found in the Photographic Archives.

Old photographs of art works in the museum’s collections as well as in other public or private collections, footage from exhibition preparations and openings, photographs illustrating the history of the building and the people constitute the main sections covering the history of the National Gallery.

More than 25,000 photographs and negatives by Greek and foreign photographers of the 19th and 20th century documenting the history of modern Greek photography are also deposited in the archival collections. Depictions of people, monuments, sites and buildings, scenes of everyday life, still lifes, historical and military scenes make up the mosaic of themes captured in the photographic archives originating from donations, bequests and acquisitions  to/ by the museum. They are at your disposal in the archival collections section of our webpage.