The personal acquaintance between prof. A. Naniopoulos and the artist Constantin Xenakis began in the early 2000s. During a conversation, the artist expressed his anxiety about the fate of his work, when he will pass away. Prof. Naniopoulos suggested him that, instead of his works end up in the basement of the National Gallery of Greece, or somewhere in France, he donates them to a provincial city in Greece, which today has nothing and thus the city will acquire an important pole of culture, while, at the same time, his own work will stand out better. Decision making was not an easy task for Xenakis, the idea gradually matured and finally it was proposed to the Municipal Authority of Serres in 2005.
Since then there have been many adventures and cold-hot alternations, whose story is not necessary to be mentioned here. In 2011 the SERREON POLITEIA Society was created, having as main statutory goal, the creation of the Xenakis Museum, in the former PAPALOUKAS military camp, which is located near the city center and the gradual development there, of a Cultural Park, with the parallel creation of other Museums and facilities such as: the Diachronic Museum of Serres Prefecture, the Municipal Gallery, the Museum of the History of Serres, the Folk Museum etc.
The efforts to create the Xenakis Museum intensified during the decade of 2010, when Mr. Petros Angelides, took over, as the Mayor of Serres. Financing the project, via national and/or private sources, had been proven unsuccessful and it was concluded to focus on the European Programmes, as the most promising source. In 2016 the CULTURAL DIPOLE proposal was drafted, by prof. A. Naniopoulos and submitted successfully to the competitive INTERREG V-A Cooperation Programme, Greece-Bulgaria 2014-2020, having as main partners: the Municipality of Serres, the Municipality of Petrich, the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTh), the Democritus University of Thrace (DUTH), also as supporters the local Societies, SERREON POLITEIA and E.M.E.I.S.. The project started in September 2017, having as main goal the construction of two Museums: the “Historical Museum” in the city of Petrich, in Bulgaria and the Contemporary Art Museum “Constantin Xenakis” in the city of Serres, located both in two abandoned former military camps.
With the contribution of officials and staff of the Municipality of Serres, also members of the SERREON POLITEIA society, great bureaucratic obstacles and technical challenges, multiplied by the antiquity of the listed building, have been overcome. Problems concerning the statics of the building have been faced, following a special study and appropriate reinforcing. It suffices to note that the number of individual studies and approvals exceeds the number of 50.
As part of the project, an emblematic full Museological-Museographic-Graphic design study, was prepared, as part of the project, by the emeritus professors of AUTh, Matoula Skaltsa, Panos Tzonos and their team. The aforementioned, worked closely with the artist and whatever was designed has his approval. The Contemporary Art Museum Constantin Xenakis, is not a typical Museum-Warehouse, but a complete Thematic Museum, where one may tour the evolution of Xenakis work, throughout his artistic career, by the use and utilization of contemporary technological means. As a result of the previous collaboration with the museologists, the artist almost doubled his initial donation, which now numbers 171 works and in addition, 13 works have been donated by prof. A. Naniopoulos. Copies of another 13 works, which the Museologists consider important for the visualization of the evolution of the artist’s work, are also exhibited. However, for the configuration of the interior space, in implementation of the increased requirements of the study, an additional cost to the originally budgeted one, was required.
The restored building is a ground floor one, occupying a total area of 660 square meters. It is a near zero energy consumption building, well-insulated, using geothermal energy for heating and cooling. The Museum has its own website, and Wi-Fi system, allowing visitors with vision impairments to acquire the content of the various texts in audio format. Haptic models of selected art works, together with texts in braille and audio narrations, enhance the blind visitor’s experience. Videos, pictures, text via the use of modern audiovisual equipment, allow visitors to form an integrated view of the artist’s life and work.
Why Xenakis in Serres, a city with which he has no relation of origin? In addition to what has been mentioned earlier, let’s complete the answer with the following: Constantin a Greek born in Egypt, had a special mental connection with Alexander the Great and the history of Macedonia. Half-jokingly, half-seriously, he often stated that he considered himself as a child of the Ptolemies. He saw the Museum as his own gift in a city of mother Macedonia. All these years of great effort, the city embraced him and he received a lot of love and friendship, in a number of events that took place for him and his work.
An effort for the creation of the Contemporary Art Museum ‘‘Constantin Xenakis’’, which lasted about 20 years, has finally been completed, thanks to the contribution of many and primarily of the artist himself, who unfortunately passed away on the 6th of June 2020, without having seen his Museum being completed, his spirit though, and his work of art will live forever here in Serres.