The Museum of Cycladic Art is devoted to the study and promotion of ancient Greek art. It was founded in 1986 in order to house the collection of Cycladic and Ancient Greek art belonging to Nicholas and Dolly Goulandris. Starting in the early Sixties, and with a permit by the Greek State, the couple collected Greek antiquities, with special interest in the prehistoric art from the Cycladic islands.
The Collection was augmented during the Seventies, following the two main directions it had been given in the previous years:
the Cycladic Collection, which was now given a slight preference owing to the scholarly importance of the subject and the ever growing international interest and the Ancient Greek Collection, covering Greek art from the 2nd millennium B.C. to the first centuries A.D., which was also enriched with significant additions.
Between 1979 and 1984, the Nicholas P. Goulandris Collection was exhibited in some of the most important Museums world-wide: the National Gallery of Art in Washington (1979), the Museum of Western Art in Tokyo (1980), the Museum of Fine Arts at Houston (1981), the Royal Museum of History and Art in Brussels (1982), the British Museum in London (1983), and the Grand Palais in Paris (1983).
Already in 1981 Nicholas and Dolly Goulandris had decided that their collection was to be permanently exhibited in Athens, in a Museum open to scholars and the general public. In 1986, the Nicholas P. Goulandris Foundation was created and approved by the Greek State. According to its constituent act, the Foundation’s objectives are the study of Aegean civilisation, research into Greek prehistoric and Classical art, and its dissemination and promotion.
The Foundation ensures the protection, display, and expansion of the collection; organises temporary exhibitions on important topics; undertakes the publication of scholarly monographs and catalogues; and participates in research projects world-wide.