Case: Museum of the city of Volos (Volos, Greece)

The Museum of the City of Volos, Greece’s sole contemporary City Museum, is housed in a converted tobacco warehouse. Through its exhibitions and research projects, the museum actively engages with the local community and academic institutions. Its first major exhibition, “Volos-Nea Ionia: so close, so far,” commemorates the 90-year anniversary of a refugee settlement, highlighting the shared experiences of diverse individuals. The museum also fosters inclusivity by organizing regular visits for young refugees to other museums, facilitating cultural exchange and dialogue. These initiatives promote community-building, integration, and empowerment, enriching the museum experience for refugees and the wider community.


The Museum of the City of Volos stands as Greece’s inaugural and only contemporary City Museum so far. Its premises are located within a former tobacco warehouse, constructed around 1920. The ground floor accommodates areas dedicated to temporary exhibitions, events, a shop, and a reading room. Notably, the temporary exhibition space preserves remnants of water distribution and transport pipelines dating back to the Middle Byzantine period (6th-7th century AD). In December 2014, the museum celebrated the opening of its first major temporary exhibition titled Volos-Nea Ionia: so close, so far. The museum has garnered research interest from academic institutions such as the University of Thessaly and the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. Collaboratively, they have undertaken an extensive research project aiming to design and produce digital interactive exhibits for the museum’s permanent exhibition.


The exhibition commemorates the 90-year anniversary of the refugee settlement in Nea Ionia and explores the impact of the large influx of refugees on the city. It focuses on the journeys of diverse individuals who met and coexisted in a shared space, making it the central theme of the exhibition. This exhibition also reflects the contemporary museum’s commitment to inclusivity, reaching out to all communities in the area, including the present-day refugees residing in the city. Additionally, every year, another museum within the Volos Municipality Museum Network is chosen for a visit, and during these organized tours, young refugees are accompanied by teachers who also serve as interpreters.


The museum has established regular and well-organized visits for underage refugees living in nearby facilities. These visits encompass a selection of five different museums within the Volos Municipality Museum Network, offering the refugees a wide range of cultural experiences. Engaging in discussions during these visits has proven highly valuable, as it enables the refugees to recognize both the similarities and differences between their own culture and traditions and those of the host country. A strong partnership has been developed with the support team aiding Syrian refugee families, resulting in recurrent visits by young refugees to other temporary exhibitions hosted by the museum. These visits serve as an opportunity for students from refugee education reception facilities to share their personal life stories through oral testimonies, listen to the experiences of others in the city, and, most importantly, connect with the history, cultural ambiance, and essence of their new home, regardless of its temporary or permanent nature.


Forging collaborations with support groups and refugee organizations enhances the effectiveness of these initiatives and facilitates a comprehensive and inclusive approach. The exhibition, centering on the history and consequences of refugee settlement in the city, directly relates to the experiences of the target audience. This deliberate thematic choice fosters a deep and meaningful connection, while the regular visits by refugees exemplify a steadfast dedication to continuous engagement and interaction. Through consistent programming, a sense of community is nurtured, promoting a shared understanding and a supportive environment for all involved. This collaborative effort and sustained involvement not only enrich the museum experience for refugees but also contribute to their integration and empowerment within the local community.


Contact information

Museum of the City of Volos


Rafaella Ntana, EKEDISY


Header Photo by Vasiliki Theodoridou on Unsplash