The Museum of the History of the Greek Costume was inaugurated in 1988 by the then Minister of Culture Melina Merkouri, and constitutes a part of the Lyceum Club of Greek Women, a non-profit organization, founded in 1910. The Museum is housed in a two-storey edifice, built in the 1920s by the civil engineer Elias Economou, to serve as his private residence. It was purchased in 1985 by the Lyceum Club of Greek Women, and arranged to accommodate the Club's costume collection.
To follow the course of the creation and enrichment of the collection of the Museum of the History of the Greek Traditional Costume, we must go back to the first decades of the century. The Museum's collection of Greek costumes and related accessories was started in the second decade of our century, with the first gifts and purchases which formed the nucleus of the Wardrobe of the Lyceum Club of Greek Women.
Already upon acquisition of the first costumes, the founder of the Lyceum Club of Greek
Women, Callirrhoe Parren, had expressed the desire to see the creation of a "sort of ethnological museum that would complement the official museums of the State".
Initially, however, the costumes in the Lyceum Club's possession were used
for the purposes of the representations of the Club's folk dance group. It was due to the initiative of Alexandra Wassenhoven, Ephor of the Wardrobe Section for 37 years, and the enthusiastic support of the then President of the Lyceum Club of Greek Women,
Chrysoula Kallia, that the theatrical costumes were established as museum pieces, which ultimately led to the creation of the Museum of the History of the Greek Costume.
The Museum of the History of the Greek Costume is preeminently a museum
dedicated to the study of the Greek costume. Its collection comprises 25.000 items,
mainly authentic regional costumes and ornaments. All this material is stored in the Museum,
and only part of it is displayed in the thematic exhibitions that are periodically held on the
ground floor of the building.
of Minoan, Classical and Byzantine Costumes
Dolls Dressed in Greek Costumes
The basic activity of the Museum of the History of the Greek Costume is the setting up of annual periodic thematic exhibitions. These are organized in collaboration with the National Archive of Greek Traditional Costume, following bibliographical and archival research in the field of the Greek costume.
The aim of the Museum is to present each theme as exhaustively as possible, therefore each exhibition has a regional focus. It has thus been possible to present a wider selection of folklore costumes - something which would not have been feasible if the exhibition had attempted to include costumes from all over Greece - and to provide the visitor with detailed information regarding the evolution of a particular costume and of its variants, depending on the use (festive or everyday costume), on the age (young girls', old women's costume, etc.), on status and on regional differences, as well as on the techniques of fabrication and decoration, and so on.
Starting in 1990, the Lyceum Club of Greek Women has been publishing
a desktop Calendar
, illustrated with 54 colour photographs and containing relevant introductory notes. In the last few years, these calendars have also constituted a sort of catalogue of the museum exhibitions, since the theme chosen for the calendar is the same as that of the exhibition.