Asian Art Museum in Corfu
The Museum of Asian Art in Corfu: The Museum of Asian Art in Corfu is the only museum of this kind in Greece. It is housed in an imposing neoclassical building near Liston promenade, Espianada square, in the Palace of Saint Michael and Saint George. This building was constructed between 1819 and 1824 by the British and initially served as the residence of the British High Commissioners of the Ionian islands.
Later on, it was the seat of the Ionian Senate, the Ionian Parliament and the headquarters of the Chivalric Orders of Saint Michael and Saint George (in the mid 19th century), from where it took its name.
When the Ionian islands were united to the Greek state in 1864, this building was used as a summer residence of the Royal Family. However, it declined as a royal residence because the King preferred to spend his summer months in Mon Repos Palace, a lovely small palace surrounded by a lot of greenery, also situated near Corfu center; the Palace of Saint Michel and Saint George was mostly used as an office by the King rather than as a residence.
In 1967, the Palace was given to the Municipality of Corfu and housed the Archaeological Museum for some years and until 1974, it worked as a Sino-Japanese Museum. Later on, the Sino-Japanese Museum was turned into an Asian museum to host the collection of Gregorios Manos, an ambassador who had donated to the Municipality a great range of Asian items and works of art. The exhibits of this museum were enriched with the collections of N. Hatzivassiliou, Ch. Hiotakis, and some others. The exhibits include items from China, Japan, India, Pakistan, Korea, Siam, Tibet, Nepal, Cambodia, and Thailand.
Among the items displayed, you will find a Samurai armor and weapons, masks of the No theatre, pieces of Chinese porcelains and bronzes, pieces of sculpture and ceramics. These exhibits are displayed in five rooms. The ground floor of the museum used to be the hall of the Ionian Senate and we can see the portraits of the Senate's presidents there. On the second floor, we find the throne room, the ball room, and the dining room, with the medals of the Chivalric order painted on the walls.
This museum also hosts some other exhibitions from time to time and organizes shows on cultural matters in general. It is certainly an impressive sight to see and something you do not expect from a Greek island.