Παρασκευή 5 Ιανουαρίου 2024

The Museum of the Olive and Greek Olive Oil in Sparta, Laconia, Greece

The Museum of the Olive and Greek Olive Oil in Sparta, Laconia, Greece

The Museum of the Olive and Greek Olive Oil, in Sparta (Peloponnese), transports you to the culture, history and technology of the olive and olive oil production in the Greek realm, from prehistoric times to the early 20th century. 
The Museum's objective is to highlight the ineffable relation of the olive with the identity of our country and, more generally, the Mediterranean basin. The olive and olive oil are presented here from different optical angles: the economy, nutrition and the olive's uses, religious worship, art and technology. 
The Museum of the Olive and Greek Olive Oil in Sparta aims to highlight the culture and technology of the olive and olive oil production, which is inextricably linked with the Greek and Mediterranean identity. Unique in Greece, it is located in the heart of Laconia, one of the main olive producing locations in Greece.
In the upper floor are presented the first testimonies about the olive in Greece, its contribution to the economy from prehistoric times to the 20th century, its role in nutrition, body care (cosmetic, pharmaceutical uses) and lighting, while special mention is made of its symbolic dimension in religion, mythology, customs and traditions. The unit concludes with a brief presentation of the olive?s presence in art.
The tour starts from the earliest findings that demonstrate the existence of the olive tree in Greece: rare fossil olive leaves, 50,000-60,000 years old, found in the Thera Caldera. The first texts date back to the 14th century BC, on clay tablets inscribed with Linear B script.
Olive oil?s capacity to cover a variety of different needs rendered it one of the most important agricultural products, with a definitive role in the economy of each historical period. The position of the olive and olive oil in nutrition are presented in a separate unit. A series of other long forgotten uses of olive oil are also revealed by the information panels and exhibits (lighting, body care, beautification). The importance of the olive and olive oil in the lives of the Greeks is vividly revealed by the many symbolisms, the worship rites and folklore, from the prehistoric to the contemporary times. The few examples of ancient and modern art in the Museum demonstrate that the olive was a constant source of inspiration for Greek artists.
The Museum?s ground floor is devoted to the development of olive oil production technology from Antiquity until the early industrial era. The post-Byzantine technology and machinery are presented in the museum. An animal-powered olive oil press from Lefkada provides evidence for its survival during the 20th century. 
A wooden double oil press with a winch has been transferred from the neighbouring area of Xirokampi. Emphasis has been placed on the revival of the powered olive oil presses (water-powered, steam-powered, diesel-powered and power-driven) using large working models. In addition, given that olive oil is still linked to body care, one of the exhibition units is dedicated to soap-making, domestic and industrial. From the large cauldron that old housewives in areas where olive oil is produced still use to make soap, we pass on to industrial soap vats.
Lastly, the Museum's semi open-air exhibition, which was completed in 2007, presents the equipment used in olive-oil presses in prehistoric, Hellenistic and Byzantine times, which are set in motion in the context of the Museum?s educational programmes. It should also be noted that the Museum of the Olive and Greek Olive Oil is a member of the network of Museums of the Olive in the Mediterranean.
History
The Museum of the Olive and Greek Olive Oil opened to the public in the end of 2002. The project had been included in the Regional Operational Programmes for the Peloponnese and was financed by the Second and Third EU Structural an Cohesion Funds.
The museum is located in a building that once housed the Sparta Electric Company, a typical Greek industrial building of the interwar period, which belongs to the Municipality of Sparta and has been conceded to PIOP. 
Its extremely bad state required a radical renovation: only the northern side was preserved and included in the modern construction that pertains to industrial buildings and creates visual escapes to the surrounding area, the neighbouring olive grove and Mt Taygetus. The imaginative architectural shell was adapted to the museological requirements of a pioneering museum.
The Museum of the Olive and Greek Olive Oil aims to become a living organism contributing to the sustainable development of the wider area. Maps, information leaflets, as well as the stand with locally produced olive products, direct the visitor to archaeological sites of olive oil production or other olive oil presses open to visitors in the neighbouring area and the rest of Greece.

A multi-purpose hall is also constructed for the organization of conferences, temporary exhibitions, events etc, a practice that enriches the cultural environment of the local community and the region it belongs to.