Cretan Open-air Museum 'Lychnostatis'
Address: Plaka Hersonissos
The Cretan Open-air Museum 'LYCHNOSTATIS' aims to promote the understanding and awareness of the Cretan folk cultural heritage.
Its scope lies on the following themes :
Cretan Folk Tradition and Ethnology
[ life-style in the pre-industrial Crete ( 19th - 20th century ), traditional occupations and customs , living legends , ethnological information e.t.c. ]
Cretan Nature and Environment
[ vegetation , mineral wealth, environmental administrative process ]
Cretan Folk Culture
[ self - taught artists who promote the folk cultural heritage with their artistic work ] .
The museum comprises the following buildings and locations :
Traditional Dwellings ( a farmer's house and a merchant's house )
Olive oil - press
Distillery for ' raki ' ( alcoholic beverage )
Threshing - floor
Weaving and plant-dying workshop
Garden with Cretan fruit - trees
Herb - garden
Flora and cactus - garden
Mineral and stone exhibition
Cretan folk artists' gallery
Auditorium [150 seats] for audio-visual shows , seminars , e.t.c.
Open-air theatre [250 seats] for cultural and artistic events
Library stocked with books and periodicals on Cretan folk culture
Cafe (where typical beverages and sweets are served)
Museum-shop (where mementoes and products of the museum are sold).
Construction - Operation - Finance
The Museum 'LYCHNOSTATIS' is an autonomous private Foundation, operating since July 1992. In March 1994, the Association of Members of the Museum was established, to support the museum's future initiatives and obtain sponsorships and grants . Two more bodies, a Scientific Committee and an Organising Committee, composed by academics , artists and businessmen , provide valuable advice in the museum's development .
The museum has its origins in a private collection formed over a period of thirty years by Yiorgos Markakis , professor of opthalmology, lecturer and writer.
The vast work of construction was carried out in seven years (1986 - 1992) by all 5 members of the Markakis family and 3 local workers , in a volunteer basis , together with a bank loan. The buildings themselves are some of the main exhibits. Built thoroughly with the prevalent raw materials (stone-wood-clay), under the creative architectural improvising of the founder, they possess an aesthetic quality unique in the area. No bulldozers, excavators or other mechanical means have been used in the construction. The collections are broad in scope, from agricultural implements to embroideries and from herbs to rhymes. The approach is by no means intellectual; all exhibits are left to speak for themselves, and visitors are allowed to touch objects and encouraged to smell and taste the various plants, fruits and products of the museum. Compatible to this both emotional and hospitable atmosphere, it is the museum's policy to welcome with a free admission all visitors who come for a second visit. Free guided tours are available every hour in English, Deutsch, Dutch (also French on request) to provide accurate information to the large number of tourists who visit the museum.
The maintainance and running cost is met by the operation of the museum (admission fees, cafe and shop sales), along with donations, memberships and subscriptions in the Association of Members of the Museum. The museum holds regular activities, including "Traditional September", an annual public event as well as Greek dancing performances, audio-visual shows (dioramas), grape-feasts, wine-tasting and several others.
Located in one of the principal tourist areas in Crete, the museum is, apart from a valuable tourist asset, an exemplary self - motivated conduct on tradition, culture and environment of the island.