History Of The Museum
Capodistrias Museum – Center for Capodistrian Studies is the first and only museum in Greece dedicated exclusively to the life and work of Ioannis A. Capodistrias, and it has been open to the public since 1981. Its goal is to provide visitors with the opportunity to take a journey through the history of Corfu, Europe and modern Greece, following the footsteps of the first Governor of Greece.
The old country home housing the Museum belonged to the Capodistrias family, which was in its possession from the 18th century until just a few decades ago. In 1979, Maria Georgiou Capodistrias, in a very charitable gesture towards Corfu, donated the estate to three Corfiot cultural organizations of major historical significance: the Reading Society of Corfu (founded in 1836), the Philharmonic Society of Corfu (founded in 1841) and the Society for Corfiot Studies (founded in 1952).
Maria Capodistria – Desylla was an important personality in Corfu. Born in Athens in 1898, she moved permanently to Corfu in 1928, along with her daughters from her first marriage to Ludovikos Skarpas. In 1931, she married the successful Corfiot industrialist Stamatios Desyllas. She became involved in many different activities and she made a particularly valuable contribution to the works of the Red Cross. Following the sudden death of her husband in Christmas, 1956 – who, at the time, was also the acting Mayor of Corfu, she was appointed to the office of Mayor to the city of Corfu – becoming effectively the first elected woman Mayor in Greece.
The Museum was founded in 1981 and for many years, due to a complete lack of resources, its overall actions were quite limited. In 1998, through funding by the Prefecture of Corfu and following an initiative of Prefect Mr. Andreas Pagkratis, three of its halls were renovated and its collection was once again placed on exhibit. In 1995, due to its traditional Ionian architecture, its garden and the characteristic arrangement of its surrounding areas, the Greek Ministry of Culture declared the whole estate to be a historical, listed monument.
Since 2007, a significant annual donation by the Museum’s Grand Benefactor Mr. Christos Fokas, a Corfiot entrepreneur and resident of Switzerland, enabled the Museum to develop its actions, gaining an ever-increasing number of visitors, while hosting notable events in its garden every summer.
In 2012, the Museum was temporarily closed for renovations. Its inclusion to the Leader programme – supervised by the Enterprise for Planning and Development of the Regional Administration of Ionian Islands and the Ministry for Rural Development – allowed the Museum to proceed to the renewal and rearrangement of its permanent exhibition, as well as its surrounding grounds.
Simultaneously with the renovation, the Museum proceeded with important projects in order to further develop and expand its research and educating aspect, and also took actions for networking with other museums and cultural and educational organizations and archives concerning the work and the life of Ioannis Capodistrias. This led to the establishment of a research scientific group, under the chairmanship of Mr. Christos Loukos, Professor Emeritus at the University of Crete, who designed a digital platform for the interconnection of documents from archives and libraries throughout Europe. The Digital Archive is accessible worldwide through the Museum’s new website. The Digital Archive of Ioannis Capodistrias and the website of the Museum were created through funding by the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation.
The Capodistrias Museum – Center for Capodistrian Studies has been transformed from a small regional museum in mainland Corfu into a model cultural unit, functioning as an important landmark for Corfiot, Greek and European history.