Summer is here, and so is our desire to spend these warm days bathing and relaxing on a Greek island. Greece is nothing but amazing, whether you like nature, history, culture, ancient ruins or nightlife, not to mention food and cities. It has it all and far more! 

And Athens, being the capital city of Greece, is definitely a place you should visit, especially if you are looking to overdose on contemporary art before retiring to a remote island to enjoy the blue sea and the warm sun. Because Athens is such a vibrant city and it offers enough spots to visit to fill up an entire week on its own. Whether you are looking for archeology museums and ruins of the Ancient Greek city, or avant-garde independent space, Athens has something for everyone. 

I visited Athens a few years back in spring, and I have to say I fell completely in love. Weather-wise, spring is the perfect season to visit Greece, as it is warm and sunny enough, but not even remotely as scorching as it is in summer. And in Athens, I loved basically everything, from the delicious food to the stunning ruins, the Acropolis and the breathtaking Parthenon, to the street art murals, big museums, and art galleries.  

But if you are quickly passing by Athens this summer, and wish to enjoy some great contemporary art, but you are short on time, here are 3 must-visit spots for your contemporary art dose. This is nothing but an appetizer of what the city has to offer, but it is enough to fall in love with its art scene. Ready to go? 

EMST Building | Photo Courtesy EMST, photo by Spiros Rekounas

The National Museum of Contemporary Art Athens

Let’s start with the basics, the National Museum of Contemporary Art Athens (EMST) should definitely be your first stop. Located just south of the Acropolis, the museum is hosted in the former FIX brewery, where it moved in 2015 and opened its doors in full operation to the public in 2020. The museum works with both Greek and international artists, aiming at promoting and raising public awareness on contemporary culture. To do so, the museum hosts a rich program of exhibitions, activities, events, and publications, featuring artists across all media and with a special focus on innovative and experimental artistic movements and the production of audiovisual works via new media.

The museum collection comprises works from both Greek and international artists, dealing with current and timeless issues. As stated on their website, “EMST aspires to expand the domestic community of contemporary art by connecting it with the international scene. In a constantly changing world, EMST represents the exchange of ideas and perspectives through contemporary art, enriching the daily lives of the public and the experience of the visitors.”

EMST is the perfect first stop for every contemporary art lover, looking to delve deeper into the Greek art scene while enjoying big exhibitions in a minimal and quintessential art museum. 

And while you are there, don’t miss the view from the rooftop terrace! 

The National Museum of Contemporary Art Athens
Kallirrois Ave. & Amvr. Frantzi Str. (Former FIX Factory), Athens, 11743

Tuesday to Sunday, 11 am – 7 pm. Closed on Monday. Thursday 11 am to 10 pm.
Tickets and info:

The George Economou Collection – Main Building | Photo courtesy The George Economou Collection

The George Economou Collection

Yet another place you really don’t want to miss, the George Economou Collection is the private collection of Mr. Economou on display at the eponymous foundation. The collectors started his journey in the 1990s, focusing at first on early twentieth-century European art. Soon the collection was enriched with postwar and contemporary works, becoming one of the major collections in Greece and Europe as a whole. 

Here you will find German Expressionism and New Objectivity, alongside works by noted international artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Mark Bradford, Alberto Burri, Dan Flavin, Lucio Fontana, Robert Gober, David Hammons, Donald Judd, Ellsworth Kelly, Yves Klein, Agnes Martin, Paul McCarthy, Charles Ray, Jenny Saville, Kazuo Shiraga, Frank Stella and Jeff Wall. At the same time, the collection hosts one to two exhibitions per year in its stunning spaces in Athens and collaborates regularly with international institutions and curators. As they state, “reflecting the interest for sociocultural awareness and the historical dialogue, these projects aim to create new opportunities for the public in Greece and abroad to engage with art.”

The George Economou Collection
80, Kifissias Ave. 15125 Marousi, Athens

Monday to Friday, 10 am – 6 pm
Info, exhibitions, and reservations:

MICHALIS ZACHARIAS. Authentically Appealing – Exhibition View | Photo courtesy Ileana Tounta Contemporary Art Centre

Ileana Tounta Contemporary Art Centre

The last stop for this brief tour is Ileana Tounta Contemporary Art Centre. The center, almost a historical landmark in the contemporary art scene of Athens, is actually a private gallery and it was originally opened in 1988, making it the first multi-purpose space of its kind in Athens. 

Located in a former warehouse north of the city center, the Ileana Tounta Contemporary Art Center specializes in Greek and international contemporary artists across all media and has organized over 250 contemporary art exhibitions within its spaces in Athens. 

Like any good contemporary art center, its program has been complemented with a wide series of cultural events, from festivals, lectures, publications, book presentations, music events as well as poetry readings and theatre performances. Here you will find two exhibition spaces, one on the ground floor and one on the first floor, a nice art-book shop and, dulcis in fundo, a hip restaurant and bar, 48 Urban Garden, to end up your contemporary art day in Athens with a refreshing cocktail or enjoying some delicious food in this nice garden. 

Ileana Tounta Contemporary Art Centre
48 Armatolon-Klefton st., 114 71, Athens

Info, exhibitions, and opening hours:

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Cover image by John Koliogiannis on Unsplash