The Museum of Marble Crafts of the Piraeus Bank Group Cultural Foundation (PIOP) is located at Pirgos in Tinos, a major art centre that has produced many significant Greek artists, including the sculptors Gianoulis Halepas and Dimitris Filippotis. It is a unique showcase of the technology of marble, a material that holds a special position in Greek art and architecture, from antiquity to this day.It is housed in modern facilities, fully in harmony with the characteristic landscape of Tinos, and presents in detail the tools and techniques used in marble crafts.
Emphasis is given to proto-industrial and pre-industrial Tinos, the most important marble-craft centre in modern times in Greece, but also to the social and economic context in which the local workshops developed.
Secular, ecclesiastical, funerary and everyday objects made of marble, clay models and plaster copies, quarrying and carving tools, sketches by past marble craftsmen, but also mechanical equipment and rich archival material, are all part of the Museum’s permanent exhibition.
Along with the reproductions of a quarry, a workshop of marble carving and assemblage of a bishopric throne, visitors have the opportunity to learn about traditional techniques and processes regarding the quarrying, first processing and transportation of the marble, as well as the shaping and positioning of a construction; in other words, the entire course, from raw material to finished work.
At the same time, the audio-visual aspects of the display bring vividly to life the quarryman’s and craftsman’s traditional work methods, while the pictures of the travelogue record the widespread presence of marble all over the island and encourage visitors to explore it on their own.
Lastly, the display extends to the Museum’s outdoor areas. At the porch in front of the entrance visitors can see a marble-hoisting machine (“biga“) and a trolley for the transportation of marble blocks from the quarry at Vathi; at the terrace, a wagon truck (“sesoula“) and a bend-corner and rails from the Patela quarry, alongside finished and semi-processed artefacts. The historical mechanical equipment exhibited at the outdoor display reconstructs typical images from natural workplaces; it was salvaged, repaired and restored to operational status care of the Piraeus Bank Group Cultural Foundation.
Young and older visitors have the opportunity to see marble blocks in their natural condition, feel their texture, observe their colours and crystals under a magnifying glass. Visitors are also impressed by the demonstrations of marble processing by local craftsmen that are often held there. The educational programs, the events, but also the important exhibitions organised by the PIOP, render the Museum of Marble Crafts a cultural centre on the island, attracting many visitors.
It is worth noting that the marble crafts of Tinos represent an element of Intangible Cultural Heritage that has been included in Unesco’s representative list since 2015.
Pirgos, Panormos Tinou, Telephone: 22830 31290.
Summer opening hours: 10:00-18:00, winter opening hours 10:00-17:00 (daily except Tuesdays).
Additional information at www.piop.gr.