The neoclassical building in the heart of Athens, also known as the Ziller-Loverdos Mansion, was designed by architect Ernest Ziller in 1882, in order to house his residence. Today, this gem of architecture houses the Loverdos Museum, a new museum in Athens. Its renovation started in 2014 and finished in 2021, when it opened its doors to the public (with free entrance), on May 18, on the International Museum Day, and is a branch of the Byzantine & Christian Museum.
Most of the citizens of Athens had not seen such a building on Mavromichali Street, in the heart of Athens, as for many years it was covered with scaffolding and burlap.
The Loverdos Museum, housed in the Ziller-Loverdos Mansion that was built in 1882-1885 by the German architect, Ernest Ziller and was his residence, today hosts the Dionysios Loverdos collection, who was the next resident of the building. The collection, one of the most important and largest collection of post-Byzantine and religious art in Greece, features pictures from the Cretan and the Ionian School, woodcarvings, manuscripts and small craft objects, as well as works by 20th century artists inspired by post-Byzantine painting.
The renovation of the building was undertaken by the competent authorities of the Ministry of Culture and Sports, thus fulfilling the obligation to return the monument to the city but also the obligation towards the collector and his memory, as Loverdos donated his house and his collection to the Byzantine and Christian Museum so that his collection or a part of it could be exhibited in this building. This takes place after 2021, after the renovation of this magnificent building. With a great deal of work by its staff, the project was completed and this particular Mansion, which combines elements of neoclassical architecture with elements of Byzantine Museum architecture, was presented to the Athenian public. In addition, the collection itself is a very large chapter.
The Ziller-Loverdos Museum is an urban palace built in 1882 in Athens. It was designed by the German architect Ernest Ziller, who used it as a main residence and a working space, until 1912, it was bought by the Greek Banker Dionysios Loverdos. Loverdos converted part of the house in order to house his important collection of post-Byzantine art.
In 1979, the mansion was ceded to the Greek State by the heirs of Loverdos and significant restoration work took place during the 2010s with the ultimate aim of turning it into a museum.
The Ziller-Loverdos Mansion spans three levels and more than 1,000 square meters, whereas it features an additional area of 573 sq. meters. It consists of a building complex of different eras and functions. The two owners of the building, Ernest Ziller and Dionysios Loverdos, made various conversions on the original architectural design.
- The urban residence of Ernest Ziller (1882-1912)
A permanent resident in Greece since 1868, Ernest Ziller was one of the main architects of neoclassical style in the country.
The renovation works on the Athenian mansion were completed in 1885. The building was the main residence of Ziller and his family, a workshop, as well as his office. Among other things, it featured a music room for Ziller’s wife, Sofia Doudou, a renowned pianist. A lot of personalities from the art and political world visited the building after being invited by the Ziller couple.
- The residence-museum of the Dionysios Loverdos family (1912-1979)
After poor business partnerships and choices, in 1900, Ziller was forced to mortgage his house, and even, in an attempt to increase his income, converted part of the building into a boarding house, where he took in boarders for a fee. However, he was unable to save his house, which was auctioned off in 1912 for 150,000 drachmas. The mansion was bought by the economist, founder of the Ionian and Laiki Bank and art collector Dionysios Loverdos. The latter proceeded to reconstruct the main part of the building and, after a few years, to build a chapel in the Chiller’s garden and to rebuild the architect’s former workshop in order to exhibit his private collection of about 500 pictures.
- From a private donation to a public collection (1979-2021)
In 1979, the two heirs of Dionisios Loverdos, Maria Loverdou and Ioanna Vasiliadi, granted their father’s collection to the Ministry of Culture, in 1980, the Mansion was damaged from a fire while it housed the dressing room of the National Opera. During the following year, the building was registered as a listed building of Greece.
The donation of the property, which took place in 1992, marked its annexation by the Byzantine and Christian Museum and the conversion of the building into a museum that was open to the public. The original plans, in the mid-2000s, envisaged the hosting within the space of a collection of drawings, maps, and photographic archives of the Byzantine and Christian Museum. However, as it had suffered significant damage from earthquakes, fire, and looting, the building remained in disrepair for almost two decades. In 2011, studies were carried out by the services of the Ministry of Culture, and in 2014, restoration work began on the building. After a five-year wait and a total budget of 5,220,696 Euros, the Ziller-Loverdos Palace was officially opened to the public in May 2021. As part of its exhibits, it hosts icons of iconostases and wooden sculptures of the Cretan and Ionian School, which are part of the Loverdos Collection.
Daily 08:30 – 15:30 (Tuesdays closed) Free entrance | 6, Mavromichali Str. Τ. +30 210 3392147, http://loverdosmuseum-bma.gr/