Corfu Museum of Asian Arts is the only museum in Greece, which is dedicated to art and antiquities of Asia since 1928, the year of founding.
It is housed in the Palace of Saint Michael and Saint George on the Greek island of Corfu. The Palace is the largest and the most significant building of the English rule period (1814 – 1864) and one of the greatest monuments of neoclassical architecture in Greece.
It was founded in 1928 as the Museum of Sino-Japanese Art, following the donation of Gregorios Manos’ Sino-Japanese collection to the Greek state. Since that time, the Museum has been a pole of attraction for many other donations, resulting in its collection currently comprising approximately 15.000 works of Asian art form private collections and individual item donations. The 1973 Hadjivassiliou’s donation, in particular, with the addition of 400 works from India, Pakistan, Tibet, Siam and Southeast Asia, changed the Museum’s strictly Sino-Japanese profile and led to it being renamed to the Museum of Asian Art. In 1980, the collector Charilaos Chiotakis donated 400 Chinese export porcelain objects to the Museum. In 1980, the collector Charilaos Chiotakis donated 400 Chinese export porcelain objects to the Museum.
The Corfu Museum of Asian Art, Chinese collection includes about 3,500 items. These exhibits include pieces of pottery, porcelain, and brass works of art, sculpture, cloisonné, lacquer objects, ivory, miniatures, clothing, jewelry and coins. A selection of the Corfu Museum of Asian Art, Chinese collection is exhibited at the east wing of the first floor.
The Museum Japanese art collection covers a wide range of works from the prehistoric period (13.400 BC) to the 19th century. It includes a variety of outstanding artefacts of ceramics, textiles, miniatures, ukiyo-e woodblock prints and paintings. The new permanent galleries of Japanese Arts on the second floor of the museum includes examples of early and late Japanese pottery, religious figurines, Samurai armor and the art of the everyday life.
The Collection of Southeast Asia Art includes works originating from India, Gandhara, Siam, Cambodia, Nepal and Tibet. The exhibits are religious figurines of stone, bronze, gold plated brass with precious stones and wood, and painted ceremonial flags. They trace the birth of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism in India and the subsequent spread of Buddhism into the surrounding areas. Additionally, the influence of Hellenistic art in the development of early Buddhist iconography and sculpture is examined. The art of Southeast Asia is exhibited in the west wing of the first floor of the Museum.
In 2011, the Museum’s collection enriched with artefacts of Central Asia in 19th century, which belong to the Jason Deighton-Sarzetakis and Yiannis Sarzetakis collection. There are unique rugs originally made by Baluch and Turkmen nomads, silk ikats from Uzbekistan, as well as gold and silver jewelry with precious stones from Samarkand and Bukhara.
Finally, the Corfu Museum of Asian Art hosts a number of periodical exhibitions all over the year, which attracts the interest of many visitors..
We would like to thank the team of Corfu Museum of Asian Art for their help on writing the article and for the photos provided