Last week, Piano Man went on yet another field trip for school. This kid has gone on a total of five field trips in the last ten months! I think that’s more times than I have gone during my entire elementary school years combined! All kidding aside, sometimes I think Piano Man is soaking in more Cypriot culture than me.
His latest field trip adventure was to a relatively new place, Zampelas Art Museum, which is only a few km from the old city in Nicosia, Cyprus. I saw photos from his field trip, but when a fellow parent and friend mentioned that it was well worth a visit, I thought, “well, it’s now or never.”
I couldn’t believe how easy it was to find this place! The website (available in Greek and English) provided clear and precise directions to the museum. The museum is located in Kaimakli, a small neighborhood outside of the old city, so I did what any normal Cypriot driver would do…park on the sidewalk, which I’ve gotten pretty good at it by now.
After paying a €6 entrance fee, you can go up to the second floor and visit the gallery, where most of the artists’ works are held. I was the only visitor of the morning, and I had free rein to walk around and take photos to my heart’s delight. It was such a contrast to our visit at the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam last month. I felt like a sardine crammed in a tiny aluminum can, which was tough to carry a growing toddler safely from one artwork to the next. Linus, albeit not as enthused about visiting the art gallery, humored me as I took photo after photo trying to capture the architectural space and artwork.
(Photo: Van Gogh Art Museum visit in May 2013)
As I am no expert in the arts, all I can say is that they mixed in several pieces from a sad and disheartened view of the world to quiet and more serene pieces, as well as a sprinkle of playful and colorful art in the gallery. I will let the photos below speak for themselves. (Click on the photos, and you will be able to see them in larger view.)
(Photo Left: Kikas, Stavros. Untitled II. 2000. Charcoal on paper. Photo Right: Ioannidou, Yiota. Dog I (Dog in Movement). 2001. Acrylic, oil, mixed technique on canvas.)
(Photo Left: Efesopoulos, Andreas. Life Struggle. 2000. Photo Right: Unfortunately, I forgot to take notes of the painting and sculpture, but it was the first one that I noticed when I walked through the second floor of the gallery.)
(Photo Left: Karletidou, Marlen. Common Ground. 2000. Acrylic and ink on canvas. Photo Right: Michael, Maria. Flying. 1999. Oil on canvas.)
(Photo: Makariou, Andreas. Urandia 2000: Dali Don Quixote Fighting with the Scarecrows. Acrylic and mixed media on canvas.)
I had a difficult time understanding the surreal and abstract pieces because the English texts describing the artwork were sometimes vague. However, I don’t think it took away from my experience of seeing the amazing work from Cypriot and Greek modern/contemporary artists. In fact, I think because I was the only visitor of the morning, I was able to stop and soak it in all the more, much more than I did at Van Gogh.
In addition to the beautiful artwork, I was remarkably surprised with way the architect designed the museum – adding several modern elements into an existing 1950s house along with an annexed building and an third floor add-on to an existing 1980s house next door.
The Zampelas family started this museum as a way to showcase artwork from the Cypriot and Greek communities in Cyprus. For over 40 years, Mr. and Mrs. Zampelas have been avid art collectors for much of their lives. Their passion turned into a reality, and it has been inspiring to see how they are working towards sharing art with people in Cyprus and beyond.
At the front entrance of the museum, currently, there is an art exchange exhibit with children from Mexico and Cyprus. Children from both countries shared a little bit of culture and history with one another. I thought it was a fantastic exhibit, a room’s worth of cultural exchange through letter writing, researching history about another person’s culture, and of course, beautiful children’s artwork.
(Photo: Gift Shop at Zampelas Art Museum)
After visiting the galleries, and checking out the gift shop, you can purchase a beverage of your choice, coffee/drink/juice at the cafe’ (no actual snacks are offered), and sit outside in the patio area. A couple more sculptural pieces are placed outside of the museum as well as a children’s art/photo op section.
One of my favorite sculptural pieces would have to be this one:
Prof thinks I like this piece because the color scheme is one of my favorite colors, which is true, but also I like how the artist juxtaposed the shutters in groups of three. It also reminded me of the old homes with a British architectural influence in the old city of Nicosia.
(Photo Left: Dikaios, Alikis. At Dawn. 2011. Wooden shutter, metallic brackets, led lighting. Photo Right: Front façade of a British-influenced architectural styled home in the old city of Nicosia, Cyprus. Taken on a tour of the old city in March 2013.)
One other aspect of the building’s exterior reminded me of another building in the old city of Nicosia. Although the architect of Zampelas Art Museum used a linear approach to create pathway from side of the gallery to the other, I felt a little unsure of the interior space when I walked to the end of the hallway. It was an empty space that felt like there was no purpose to the space, except for potential growth to house new art in the future. The photo on the right doesn’t have an existing linear space from end of the building to the other. It’s just a random hallway sticking out of the building like a strange looking weed in someone’s backyard. I haven’t walked through the interior space to know its use or function, but it looks really odd on the outside. It also felt a little nerve-racking to walk under the extension only because I generally don’t trust all construction done in Cyprus.
(Photo Left: Exterior of Zampelas Art Museum. Photo Right: Exterior of a building in the old city of Nicosia, Cyprus.)
I have to thank our friend for recommending this place. It’s too bad that I found out about this museum so late into our journey in Cyprus. As much as I liked Rota Children’s Museum located inside the old city, Zampelas Art Museum – the coolest modern and contemporary art museum this side of the Mediterranean – is truly a gem worth seeing.