The Folkloric Art Museum of Santorini is located in Kontochori village, very close to the capital of Santorini, Fira. It was founded in 1974 by Emmanuel A. Lignos, lawyer, journalist and editor of the monthly newspaper “Theraic News”. The museum is housed in a traditional cave house of Santorini, built in 1861 as an inscription on the canava wall indicates. The rooms of the house, which survived the earthquake of 1956, were renovated in 1973 and furnished with antique furniture, utensils and heirlooms. In 1993 an extension was added to the original building in order to house an art gallery and some workshops, as well as a chapel of the Saints Constantine and Helen, in memory of the founder’s uncle.
The set-up of each space demonstrates the typical cave home of Santorini and represents the way of life in the beginning of the 20th century. The house consists of a hall, two bedrooms, a dining room, a kitchen and a cellar for food storage, along with the characteristic arches and windows. In the traditional domestic winery, which is built in a cavern, there are barrels, antique utensils, tools, treading vats and a wine press where the famed wine of Santorini was produced. In every room visitors will come across housewares, knickknacks, photographs and traditional costumes. Among the various household objects there is a gramophone and a pair of handmade wedding crowns that stand out. What is more, the museum owns a collection of historical archives that include folders with articles concerning Santorini, rare photographs of the island that date back to 1895, old and new rare books about Santorini, lithographs, maps as well as important manuscripts.
The house is accompanied by a beautiful courtyard and a garden with trees and flowers, where the lovely chapel dedicated to Saints Constantine and Helen was built. It boasts a belfry and a festivities room and highlights the religious tradition of locals. In the Museum Gallery, a wing which was added later to the original house, guests can admire a display of drawings, oil paintings, watercolors and other works of well-known Greek artists, inspired by Santorini. Finally, the Folklore Museum hosts different traditional workshops with full equipment for carpenters, barrel makers, shoemakers and tinsmiths.
A visit to the museum is a time travel to a bygone era and offers valuable insight into the culture and tradition of the island of Santorini. The museum, which is one of the most important Folklore Museums of Greece, is the outcome of the efforts and need of Emmanuel A. Lignos to promote and raise awareness of the cultural heritage of Santorini. It is open to the public Monday to Friday, 10:00-16:00.