© Ministry of Culture and Sports, © Museum of Asian Art
General view of the Museum's building
The Museum of Asiatic Art is unique in Greece and one of the most important of its kind in Europe. It contains some eleven thousand exhibits spanning the eleventh century BC to the twentieth century AD from a variety of Asian countries The greater part of the collection, more than ten thousand objects, come from China and Japan, while the rest come from Tibet, Korea, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Thailand and Cambodia.

The museum's collections have grown through private donations. The most significant of these, which constituted the museum's core, was the private collection of the diplomat Grigorios Manos, who served as Greek ambassador to France and Austria at the end of the nineteenth century. His collection contained over ten thousand five hundred objects including metal artefacts, pottery, wood-carvings, paintings, prints, weapons, sculpture and minor objects, from China, Korea and Japan. The second largest donation to the museum is the collection of N. Chatzivasileiou, former Greek ambassador to India and Japan. It comprises four hundred and fifty objects, mainly Korean and Japanese screens, and sculpture from India, Thailand and Pakistan (including Greco-Buddhist Gaddara sculpture). The collection of Ch. Chiotakis, a Greek merchant who lived in Holland for many years, is the third largest donation, with three hundred and forty one pieces of sixteenth to eighteenth century Chinese export porcelain. The smaller collections of Petros Almanachos, Iordanis Siniosoglou and Giannis Kollas are also noteworthy. The Siniosoglou collection includes Chinese furniture and pottery, and the Almanachos collection is Chinese porcelain and paintings, as well as three Persian carpets.

The museum is housed in the Saints Michael and George Palace (the Royal Palace), an imposing three-storied building and a fine example of neoclassical architecture, located at the northern end of the Spianada in the town of Corfu. The display rooms occupy the ground and first floors, and are largely under refurbishment. The Palace State rooms, namely the Senate Room on the ground floor, and the Rotunda, Throne Room and Dining Room on the first floor, all of which contain historical heirlooms and furniture from the period of the Ionian Senate, are open to the public. The west wing's first floor, which houses the Japanese collection, is also accessible, as are the temporary exhibition rooms on the ground floor. Soon seven rooms containing Chinese artefacts on the east wing's first floor will also be accessible. The museum's exhibits are displayed not only as mere works of art, but in such a way as to illustrate both the similarities and differences of each country and period's art. The museum also houses specialized conservation laboratories for paper, wood, pottery and metal, offices, storerooms, a photographic archive, a profuse library and a modern lecture hall.

The Museum of Asiatic Art functions as a Special Regional Service of the Ministry of Culture. Its aim is to protect and promote the cultural heritage of Asian countries as a national centre for the presentation and study of Asian art in Greece. The museum organizes temporary exhibitions and collaborates with other museums and scholars with similar interests; its priority for the immediate future is to organize educational programs and a series of lectures for the promotion of the Asian civilizations.
Despina Zernioti, archaeologist