BackgroundThe foundation was established in 1981 by the Hellenic Bank of Industrial Development (PTI.ETVA) with the objectives of the preservation of the greek cultural heritage, the unveiling of traditional technology and industrial archaeology. The main activities of the foundation have included the creation of thematic and technical museums, the organisation of seminars and scientific events and the issuing of various publications relevant to the foundation's initiatives and activities. In 2002 the foundation became part of the Piraeus Bank Group, which has been its main funder ever since, and was given its current name. PIOP's objectives were expanded in accordance with the Piraeus Group aim of promoting Greek cultural heritage and identity. While it continues to be active in fields such as research and technological culture, it also undertakes initiatives in other areas of culture and in environmental protection.
MissionThe Piraeus Bank Cultural Foundation aims to establish an alternative concept on cultural activities of high quality, to reinforce regional development and to operate in harmony with society.
Programme areasThe foundation's activities are related to the preservation of Greek culture and particularly the conservation of industrial heritage. Programmes consist of the following cultural management initiatives:
• Network of Museums
• Research Programmes
• Educational Programmes
• Academic events
• Historical and Photographic Archives
Network of Museums
Organises and manages a network of thematic museums, which study, preserve and promote Greece's heritage and cultural identity. These museums constitute models as far as the method of creating museums and the manner of their museographic structure is concerned and, in each and every case, highlight the special nature of the production of the region they are situated in. The network functions according to a model elaborated and implemented by PIOP, whereby the latter undertakes the museums' administration, accounting and secretarial services centrally, while simultaneously supervising their maintenance, running and promotion and organising various events on their premises. This model draws on the direct and unwavering collaboration of local society and all local and regional authorities.
PIOP's Museum Department is responsible for the constant monitoring of the museums' smooth functioning and timely maintenance. The network's quality is ensured by the following factors:
- compliance with contemporary museological standards regarding the creation of museums whose scientific integrity does not compromise their accessibility, content and pleasantness
- their meticulous maintenance, cleaning and guarding
- the collections' renewal
- the elaboration of educational programmes and organisation of cultural events
- well-organised secretarial and accounting support
In collaboration with notable Greek scientific entities (universities and research centres), PIOP carries out research programmes that correspond to its statutory goals, in particular inventorying, preserving and highlighting pre-industrial technology, but also valorising the cultural heritage it relates to. These programmes constitute an integral part of the foundation's threefold action: research - exhibition - publication. Furthermore, they are conceived on an interdisciplinary basis and in such a manner that their results might be exploited on different levels, such as for the creation of thematic technological museums that can rejoin the foundation's Museum Network in the Greek provinces, the organisation of exhibitions, the publication of books and the digitisation of scientific data that contribute to the advancement of research. In the past, the foundation has been responsible for carrying out studies relating, among others, to: sericulture and silk manufacturing; tanning; hydraulic power; the history and technology (pre-industrial and industrial) of olive production; the technology of paper production and typography/printing; brickworks and roof tile manufacturing; the crafts related to carving and sculpting marble; traditional occupations in the regions of Stymfalia, Pelion and the Aegean; technology in Greece's Venetian-occupied regions; and, the technology of traditional Greek musical instruments. In a totally complementary manner, therefore, archaeological/in situ research is undertaken alongside a historical/ethnographic inventorying - which is also based on oral history- recourse to the archives of companies and services/institutional organs, architectural measure drawing, mechanical surveys and drawings of the existing situation and the photographing/filming of buildings and techniques. The results of these research studies also serve as the basis of small itinerant exhibitions, publications (which often lay down the initial foundations of existing bibliography) and other applications.
Supports the teaching/educational dimension of its network of museums. The exhibitions are organised in such a way as to allow the visitors to take a self-guided tour and, to this end, use a variety of interactive 2D and 3D audiovisual media (texts, plans, drawings, photographs, audiovisual material, animated models). The educational actions organised in PIOP's museums are aimed at creating a living link, a network, between schools and museums, an aim made easier to implement because of the fact that these museums are in the Greek provinces. Particular importance is given to the children's experiential relation with the tools, machines and processes of technical civilisation, subjects which as yet are neglected in mainstream school education. In this context, original events are organised on the occasion of PIOP's participation in European and international happenings (International Museum Day, European Heritage Days, Night of the Museums). Educational programmes for pre-school, primary and secondary school children, relating to the processes of the technical culture presented in each museum are carried out systematically, such as the Silk Museum programme , the Rooftile and Brickworks Museum programme, the Olive & Olive Oil Museum programme and the Museum of Marble Crafts programme.
The PIOP Department of Publications aims to fill the research gap observed in Greece in the field of industrial archaeology and the history of technology and, in parallel, to republish old books, now out of print, which are of use to modern historiography. The works published to date are grouped into the following publishing series: Monographs, Science and Technology, Museology, Reference Points, Conference proceedings, Industrial Heritage, Contributions, Cultural guides, Our Museums, Tales for children, Periodical Technologia and Educational packs.
PIOP's Academic Events Department is mainly involved in the organisation of three-day working meetings and the publication of their proceedings. Nine three-day working meetings have been organised to date, addressing issues of Modern Greek technology and recording the history of basic Greek products (wine, bread, olive and olive oil etc).
Historical and Photographic Archives
PIOP's Historical Archives Department is responsible for collecting, organising and making available to research workers the Group's historical archive material, with a view to preserving the historical memory of the Piraeus Bank Group. The Historical Archives' collections document the history of the Group's banks, the entities or individuals that developed direct ties to its business activities and the history of the businesses that were either founded by the Group's banks or were acquired by them. The Department's Special Library offers specialised information on subjects relating to economic history and the history of banks and businesses in Greece. The Photographic Archives manage the photographic/archival material produced and used by the research programmes, publishing activities and scientific events, as well as the material of the thematic sections in the exhibition areas of the Foundation's Museum Network.The photographic/archive material is organised according to international standards and sound management practices. It comprises a variety of media, while its thematic sections cover subjects that are in general related to Greece's traditional technology and industrial heritage: sericulture, olive cultivation, architecture, hydraulic installations, medicinal plants, tanning, basketry, metalworking and traditional crafts are some of the subjects on which rich photographic material is available.
The PIOP Library is specialised in the acquisition of bibliographical resources related to the foundation's research areas, which are defined in its statutes. PIOP's scientific and research interests are twofold: highlighting the history of technology and pre-industrial archaeology through the creation and functioning of a Museum Network in the Greek provinces, and publishing works concerning these subjects. The foundation's library is divided into two sections, aimed at improving its organisation and functioning: a) the Central Library, and, b) the Special Library of the Historical Archives' Department. Its collection totals approximately 15,000 Greek and foreign titles (books, periodicals and brochures). The Central Library has around 5,000 books and periodicals; its reserves are constantly expanded through the addition of new publications and periodicals from both Greece and abroad with an emphasis on topics relating to: industrial archaeology, museology, the history of technology and of various productive branches, folklore and cultural material, ethnology and anthropology, and economic history, as well as new technologies concerning research on culture. It is also the repository of educational material regarding museums and archaeological sites.