The MACEDONIAN CENTRE OF CONTEMPORARY ART and the MACEDONIAN MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART represent a remarkable civic initiative, unique in the annals of the Greek plastic arts. It all started in 1978, when Alexander Iolas called Maro Lagia to enquire about the extent of the earthquake damage to Thessaloniki’s cultural structures.
Meanwhile, outside the city, at the country retreat of the Dambassinas family, a group of art-loving citizens who were sitting out the aftershocks of the very severe earthquake were discussing the problems facing Thessaloniki with the devastation of its monuments. The discussion also turned to the creation of a contemporary art centre, which was something the city lacked.
One of the group, city councillor Argyris Maltsidis, cited the example of the Museum in Skopje, which was founded after the catastrophic 1963 earthquake and for which an appeal had been sent out to artists around the world for support and donations of works of art.
However, what really assured the positive outcome of the idea was the continuous communication between Maro Lagia (owner of the ZITA MI Gallery, the only contemporary art exhibition space in the city at the time) and Alexander Iolas. Their friendship and her persistence eventually bore fruit in a major donation from the wealthy collector, whose name carried substantial weight within the international plastic arts community.
This encouraged both the originators of the idea and those who embraced it once hatched. Among the latter was Petros Kamaras, a wealthy local tobacco merchant with a PhD in economics and a keen interest in arts and letters, who was a staunch supporter of the movement in all its aspects and who played a major role in the procedures for the actual creation of the association…