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The Gallery (art collection) was established at the same time as the Athens School of Fine Arts, and began acquiring pieces that were related to the artistic output of those involved with the School and the artistic education it provides. Nowadays, the collection includes about 5,000 works of painting, sculpture, printmaking, religious and mosaic art, the rich harvest of a life spanning 165 years. The pieces that make up the Gallery collection are representative of the artistic activity of the School’s studio Professors and its students, while it also includes artwork that has been donated to ASFA. In that sense, the ASFA Gallery is a living token of its own history and, consequently, of a very important part of Modern Greek art.

Through the “Information Society” Operational Programme, and specifically invitations No. 65 and 172, the Athens School of Fine Arts undertook the documentation, part-restoration and digitalisation of the pieces added to its collection between 1837 and 2005.

The ASFA Gallery collection includes early work from the most important representatives of Modern Greek Art, who were, at one time, involved with the School as students, academic or administrative staff, work by well-known artists who stood out during their studies, and representative pieces by graduates from 1989 onwards. It also includes work by prominent artists, which have been donated to the School, and a large number of Greek Folk Art relief copies and paintings, created during between 1950 and 1960 by ASFA students, under the supervision of academic and former professor Pavlos Mylonas, in places such as Pilio, Chios, Mytilini and Skyros.

The collection, which consists of more than 5,000 pieces, was catalogued by means of basic entries in various archives; there was no indexing system and the pieces were classified either by time period or by general category, such as prints, paintings, sketches, etc.

Despite the difficulties in managing and utilising the work because of these organisational conditions, it was not left unexploited. On the contrary, it has been used several times, for a variety of purposes, such as organising themed exhibitions in Greece and abroad, research and publishing, and for promoting special subjects such as undertaking dissertations and ASFA pilot programmes related to the digital documentation and management of the material.

The activities undertaken as part of two co-financed projects entitled “Promotion and documentation of the beginning and the evolution of Modern Greek Art 1837-2003” and “Documentation and promotion of 3800 artworks from the ASFA Gallery collection (1980-2005)”, achieved the following:
•  Preserving a valuable piece of the history of ASFA and Modern Greek art.
•   Disseminating the work of important artists to the wider public.
•  Fostering scientific research and promoting the documentation of the history of Modern Greek art.
• Creating educational material to facilitate the study of Modern Greek art.

The “Promotion and documentation of the beginning and the evolution of Modern Greek Art 1837-2003” project ran from 2004 to 2008, and developed along three main axes.

The first axis pertained to all the actions that were required in order to create the first ASFA Gallery digital collection, and to the correct methods of organisation, storage and management for its utilisation. Individual actions undertaken as part of the first axis included:

• Defining the specifications for standardisation and digital documentation, in accordance with established international standards.
• Compiling a catalogue of collection pieces that require special treatment in terms of restoration, based on the condition of their materials. Basic restoration of the pieces (cleaning, restoration of obvious flaws) in order to prepare them for being photographed.
• Recording the condition of each piece, as a guide for the restoration process.
• Compiling a detailed list that includes all the features that pertain to the pieces of the collection.
• Taking digital photographs of each piece, using methods of the highest quality and based on international precedents.
•  Digital reproduction of all information obtained during all phases of the project.
•  Procuring an indexing, documentation and management system for the digitalised material.

The second axis pertained to actions for developing applications that can be used to publicise and disseminate the digital collection created as a result of the actions of the first axis. In particular:

• Creating and promoting high quality bilingual electronic publications presenting the ASFA Gallery collection, in three separate sections: a) 1837 – 1930, b) 1930 – 1960, and c) 1960 -1980.
• Creating a bilingual information portal for the ASFA Gallery with themed cultural content, which offers the user access to a variety of interactive services, as well as the opportunity to search through the content for information.

The third axis pertained to all actions for procuring and installing the necessary equipment for the support of both the realisation of the project and its functionality, once it was completed.

The objective of the “Documentation and promotion of 3800 artworks from the ASFA Gallery collection (1980-2005)”, which ran from 2008 to 2009, was to scientifically document and digitalise 3,800 pieces of art created between 1980 and 2005. All the material that was produced was added to the existing Gallery database.

The database, which includes a total of 7,300 artworks, will be further utilised through the future development of an interactive application that will, among other things:

• Present the ASFA professors by means of a tree diagram, in terms of the cultural movements they were involved in and the art education methods they adopted, and which, in turn, influenced the creation of new artists.
• Create dynamic catalogues/indexes of artists, relevant terms, a glossary of commonly used terms in documentation, and new acquisitions.
• Provide users with the option to select and create collections by artist, theme, etc, using the Carousel system.