The Michaleas residence was built in 1894, to house the old Athenian family. In the 1960s it was expropriated and restored by the Sate. Six years after its completion, in July 1976, it opened to the public as the Paul and Alexandra Canellopoulos Museum, housing most of the couple’s private collection of Greek artworks dating from prehistoric times to the recent past.
After twenty years of operation as a Museum the building had deteriorated, mainly because of the underground streams that run down the northern slope of the Acropolis. In 1995 a refurbishment of the building was deemed necessary, designed by the Ministry of Culture. Once the project was completed in 1996, with funding by the Archaeological Resources Fund, the collection was optimally laid out in chronological order, thematic and geographical units so as to fit in with the buildings’ levels and character.
From its inception to 2004, the Museum’s exhibits were housed in the buildings’ three floors and the basement, but the space was not sufficient: another thousand items from the Canellopoulos collection that formed part of the donation contracts remained in the Museum’s storeroom or in their owners’ home. The only solution would be to extend the Museum facilities to bring the stored items on display and permit a better division of the different series of exhibits which were necessarily crowded.
Alexandra Canellopoulos proposed and financed the purchase of the adjacent plot of land to the east of the Museum, where a new wing was built on the designs of architect Paul Kalligas. When the new wing was completed, it housed the entire Canellopoulos collection so that it was displayed to the public as a whole. This venture and the Museum’s work has been supported by the Paul & Alexandra Canellopoulos Foundation.