THE GARDEN OF EDEN FOR EVENTS
Way out there…
A country house, gallery, garden, event space and an ethnographic museum is what hides behind the facade of the Vorres Museum in a town called Painia, near the centre of Athens. A 320,000m2 piece of land is home to numerous buildings, heavenly Mediterranean gardens and more than 6,000 museum artefacts that unveil 4,000 years of turbulent Greek history. The museum was born after the Vorres’ family vision became a reality and was donated to the Greek government through their foundation, established in 1983. Its founder, Ian Vorres (1924-2016), was very keen on keeping alive Greek cultural heritage that started fading away soon after World War 2. He spent most of his working days in Canada and became obsessed with building the museum when he returned to his homeland. The museum is an interesting intertwinement of old and new, starting with two traditional houses called “Pyrghi”, which seamlessly make the transition into the new collection of Modern Greek art. In addition to permanent exhibitions, visitors can also enjoy temporary exhibitions, like this summer’s display of amazing olive tree graphics.
Way to Stay
Hotels offering stunning views of the city are the perfect getaway from the beaming Athenian energy. The choice of hotels is vast and you will easily find everything from independent hotel brands to renowned international hotel chains, from the icons like the Hilton, Electra Palace and Grand Bretagne to an excellent selection of designer palaces, such as Hotel Was – there is literally something to suit every taste. A professional congress service with a touch of Mediterranean spirit is what makes the accommodation in Athens so special and if you are looking for accommodation near the Vorres museum, the safest option would probably be one of the hotels at the nearby Athens International Airport, with Sofitel being the largest one.
Meet in style
Over the years, the Vorres museum has been the host of numerous colourful cultural events and concerts, as well as product launches for different companies. In fact, one of their conference halls was just getting set up to host a corporate event of that nature at the time of our visit. An event in the middle of Greek historical heritage, modern art, and one-of-a-kind contemporary installations is definitely a special experience. It’s a place where the past and present merge into one single yet contrasting entirety that leads the visitor through impressive works of art. The museum’s location and all of the programmes it offers could also be used for motivational meetings or teambuilding events. Our favourite spot for organising events has to be the heavenly garden that can be transformed into a first-class reception venue. It has space for around 700 participants and serves as a lobby of the museum, as it is directly connected to the facility.
Off the eaten track
Exploring Athens on an empty stomach is something only a madman might attempt, so a visit to one of Dionysus’ (the Greek god of wine and festivity) institutions is mandatory. Greek taverns, among which some have become icons of Athenian social life, serve some traditional Greek dishes that might not be as familiar as mousaka or tzatziki, but are no less delicious and typical for the parts of the country. Mikrolimano is a fairly undiscovered part of the Athenian port city of Piraeus that boasts an impressive number of restaurants, renowned for their sea-food. What is especially impressive is the district of Gazi, which has really started to gain popularity for its bars and hipster culinary offer. Some amazing restaurants can also be found in the town of Paiania, which will impress you with its authentic offer.
TOP 3 INCENTIVE IDEAS
1. Mama’s cooking: The objective of this game is to produce a “Greek recipe”, some of Greece’s most popular dishes, in a group environment. Once completed, the recipes are judged on the following criteria: organisation, presentation, and taste.
2. Feel Greece: Greece is well known for its civilization, culture and traditional goods. Explore the production of wine, honey, and oil around the museum. At the end of the excursion, you will taste the final product as part of a Greek traditional lunch.
3. Techno Recycle Teambuilding: Business executives work in groups of five, assembling complex experimental devices using recyclable materials. The only help in assembling them is a nearly identical device on a photo or a plan.
For more ideas go to: www.summit.gr
Ian Vorres was born in Athens in 1924, served with the American Special Forces behind German lines in the Second World War and fled to Canada at the war’s end. He attended Queen’s University and the University of Toronto, where he studied philosophy and psychology, taught for a while and then swapped his chalkboard for a typewriter and became the art critic for the Hamilton Spectator and contributor to The Globe and Mail and Saturday Night, among other publications. In 1962, he wrote a highly successful book, The Last Grand Duchess, the authorized biography of Olga, the youngest child of Czar Nicholas II of Russia. Unlike her brother, she survived the Russian Revolution and ended her days in relative obscurity in Canada.
But art was his love. In the mid-1960s, he returned to Greece to take over the family’s import-export business and, a few years later, opened his museum, whose gallery space and collection would expand over the decades. It became famous for its parties, including one in honour of then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s official visit to Greece in 1983. The host was Melina Mercouri, one of Greece’s most famous actors.
Ian Vorres – Famous Greek art collector graduated from Athens College and obtained a diploma in Economics and Political Science from Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada, as well as higher education diploma in Philosophy and Psychology from the University of Toronto. For a short period of time, he worked as a journalist in Canadian newspapers.
In 1967, Vorres was appointed Director of the Greek Pavilion at the Montreal International Fair and was the only Canadian citizen director of a foreign country’s pavilion at the exhibition.
From 1991 to 1998 he served as mayor in the Paiania municipality. In 2001, he received the honorary title of Doctor in Fine Arts from the American College in Greece.
The museum is set in six acres of lush Mediterranean gardens in Paiania, near Athens International Airport. Alighting the bus at Agias Triados str., you should follow Diadochou Constantinou str. and you will reach the museum after either a five-minute walk (1st Agias Triados) or after a ten-minute walk (2nd Agias Triados).