A Chios treasure in a basement
Besides an Olympian and two Orthodox patriarchs, Kallimasia on the island of Chios also boasts a small treasure in the basement of its middle school. Around 20 years ago, the village school’s principal at the time, Yiannis Kolliaros, started collecting objects that no longer had practical use – like old tools, documents, furniture, machines, utensils, ceramics – but are part of the area’s history. This collection led to the Kallimasia Folk Museum, dedicated to the traditional occupations of Chios from the Middle Ages to the mid-20th century.
“I wrote the names of the donors on the first lot of objects I amassed. Once people started seeing the names written down, they came forth with more stuff and within two years, I had around 2,000 objects,” says Kolliaros. “Now we have some 6,000 objects related to 30-40 traditional occupations. It is the largest collection of folk history in Greece,” he adds.
Determined to create a true representation of a typical Chios village, Kolliaros and a team of volunteers secured funding from public and private sources and got to work. “We built rooms with arches in the traditional manner. First, the olive press and the ouzo distillery, then the cobbler’s worskshop, the tailor’s and the smith’s.”
Kolliaros is also responsible for assembling and managing the displays. Unable to reject donations even if he already has them, surplus objects have ended up in smaller museums on the island or in an old house he owns.