The cultural and educational nature of the Lampakis Family Archives collections


Your first obligation when you don the priestly robes is to really feel all those that went before you deep inside. Your second is to maintain their momentum and light the way for the continuation of their work. Your third obligation is to bequeath to your son a powerful commandment: he must surpass you!
Νikos Kazantzakis, Ascesis: The Saviors of God

In Ancient Greece, the Athenians set themselves the goal of developing their spirit and ethos in harmony with one another. When we talk about education, we often identify it with knowledge and specialized training, and yet knowledge is a coefficient of education, not education itself. Education is directly bound up with its aims, which are different in every era.


A Good Teacher is the Teacher who teaches his student
To learn
To create
To create with others
To enjoy their creation.

And is respectful of his predecessors at all times, where these predecessors are not only their parents and grandparents, but the sea, too, the mountains, the wind, the sun and everything else that was before him, meaning NATURE

Christos Tsolakis
Professor Emeritus (Pedagogy of Primary Education)
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

One of the most pressing issues facing the modern Greek state following its establishment in the early 19th century was the need for Greece to acquire a national identity. Some Greeks chose to search for it in a return to the glories of Ancient Greece, others in an unbroken tradition of Greekness going back to antiquity. Georgios Lampakis would contribute to the efforts being made to prove this continuity by founding the Christian Archaeological Society and the Christian Museum, the forerunner of today’s Byzantine and Christian Museum, in 1884.

Both approaches shared a prerequisite: education and culture. Now, in the 21st century, globalization is forcing the Greeks to once again attend to their national identity. Greeks today are being called upon to answer two fundamental calls:

  • To play an active and conscious part in the life of the nation by organizing their lives within the framework imposed by the new status quo.
  • To refashion the constituent parts of their national identity and develop a desire to participate, for participation is fundamental to social cohesion, collectivity and national identity.

The core elements of the Greek national identity are:

  • The shared language
  • Customs and traditions
  • The Greek dogma of individual freedom, inherited from the ancients
  • The national character which, according to E.P. Papanoutsos, includes
    “the people’s spiritual and intellectual make-up, their soul, their views and preferences, their modes of behavior”
  • Its singularities or uniqueness

Greece, like every nation, should design educational policies that reinforce the core elements of its national identity. In so doing, they should be guided by the mechanisms by which citizens identify their personal and collective identities, undertake their personal responsibilities, and know themselves. This is why every institution, public or private—and especially those involved in new technologies, IT and communications—should be brought in to serve education, but in a way that remains respectful of our national roots.

It is this approach—that of the contemporary Greek citizen (and schoolchildren and young people in particular, through education) remolding their national identity, personal and collective, recognizing the values that have underpinned Greekness down the ages, and struggling to achieve a balance between these and the current values of globalization—that the Lampakis Family Archives have elected to work towards. The LFA’s decision chimes with, and could be considered a continuation of, the work of the three Lampakis brothers who shared the same vision in the late 19th century. The LFA hopes to achieve its goal in two ways: firstly, by showcasing its collections, and secondly by organizing educational programmes and events which serve to spotlight Greek arts and letters.

The LAMPAKIS FAMILY ARCHIVE consists of the collections of Ioannis, Georgios and Emmanouil Lampakis.

  • The collection of Ioannis Lampakis, photographer, includes the “Collection of 26 photographs (measuring 13×18) of the first international Olympic Games held in Athens on March 23, 1896. The only complete and somewhat successful collection”, as the photographer wrote in the introduction to the album he created of the Games. His photographs present the Games in their social context and avoid portraits in favour of shots of the athletes relaxing and in action, when they are included in general scenes which also include the spectators. The album is the first example of photo reporting and photo montage in the history of Greek photography. The Archive also contains the photographer’s camera, a number of his personal effects, and the exclusive photograph of Spyros Louis, the Greek winner of the 1896 marathon, posing in Lampakis’ studio against a backdrop adorned with Athenian landmarks including the Temple of Olympian Zeus and Plaka; the backdrop was painted by the photographer’s brother, Emmanouil Lampakis.
  • The collection of Georgios Lampakis, Byzantinist, provides the educator with all manner of material with which to clearly orientate their educational goals. The collection also serves as a fertile medium for introducing students to their history, and a means of conveying to them a singularly important message: few things are as important as having a vision in life.
  • The collection includes Georgios Lampakis’ journals, correspondence and academic publications, along with his monument archive, the Kozakis-Typaldos archive, his manuscripts and published works and a collection of postcards. The Archive is a source of information for the historical researcher and anyone interested in familiarizing themselves with the Early Christian period, Christian antiquities in Greece and the Byzantine period.
  • The collection of Emmanouil Lampakis, artist and icon painter, includes his works in oils, charcoal and pencil, the sketching course he published, studies he made for wall paintings in churches, and his plans for the renovation of Daphne monastery. All in all, this visual material, so expressive of the spiritual, intellectual and artistic spirit of the brothers’ era, provides educators with an extremely useful learning aid and art-lovers with much to admire. Emmanouil Lampakis was the founder of both the Art Union and the Hellenic Art Gallery.

The Lampakis Family Archives would like to hand over this tradition—these cultural elements and values from the past—to people in the present, so that they may be preserved for future generations. In an era which calls everything into question, as Zoe Karelli wrote: “The genuine Greek tradition might just provide the support we need”.

While the primary goal of the Lampakis Family Archives must be to preserve, organize and house the collections of the Lampakis brothers, the LFA’s administrator, Ioannis E. Lampakis, is determined to see the material they contain help strengthen Greek national unity and cultural development.

Skip to content