Gazi has become a very popular area of Athens over the past few years. It has evolved from being an under-developed neighborhood into the hottest place to be; its nightlife is the most noteworthy element. Clubs, theatres, cinemas and concert halls have circled the area. This growth can be associated with the closing of the Gasworks plant that used to pollute the area and its transformation into a cultural industrial park. Inside this park, you can find a museum that presents the history of the area and the way the plant production line was organized combining it with the original industrial architecture of the 19th century.
The Industrial Gas Museum is the museum, located inside the Technopolis City of Athens; Technopolis is an area that once was the Gasworks plant. The plant was founded in 1857 and continued to operate without a pause until 1984. Due to the fact that it preserved its initial 19th century architecture (making it one of a few in Europe), in the 1980’s it was listed as a historic monument by the Greek Ministry of Culture. After restoration, Technopolis was first open in 1999 by the municipality of Athens. The Industrial Gas Museum opened its doors to the public in 2013.
Technopolis City of Athens hosts concerts, festivals, exhibitions, bazaars and thematic parks like “The Christmas Factory” on Christmas. This cultural venue attracts thousands of visitors every year thanks to variety of the events for both all audiences. There is a children’s action park called “Skywalk”. Skywalk can also be found in Seattle, Istanbul and Prague. Children can climb or slide or discover the view through its observatories.
Two of the three gasholders have been restored. One of the gasholders houses a radio station and the other one - Innovathens, a hub for entrepreneurship. The third one hasn’t been renovated yet. In the summer months, Technopolis is one of the most notable outdoor music venues representing artists of all music genres.
The Industrial Gas Museum is an attempt to connect the site with its past while highlighting the industrial heritage of the city. Facades of the original buildings have been kept intact as have also been the majority of the original equipment of the plant that can be found inside. Most of these buildings that once were used for gas production, now host the permanent collection of the museum. There is a suggested museum route that a visitor can follow in order to trace the production process and the life in the factory.
Not all of the buildings were constructed in the same decade, as the original ones date back to 1857. The new retorts houses were built in the early 20th century. It should be noted that the original 19th century technology was kept until the closing of the plant, with a small exception. As technology evolved, a new building was constructed to adopt a new method. The new water gas building was designed in 1952 with its equipment intact; it is the only water gas building in Europe. The tower is the tallest building in the park reaching 30m height. On the top, there is an observatory offering a breathtaking view of the park, Gazi and nearby neighborhoods.
In many buildings you can still feel a smell of coal which will probably stay here forever. Humorously, the smell is nice in contrast to the outside environment. Trees and flowers will allow you to have a breath of fresh air after visiting the museum. This, however, is also a point of criticism in the park. How do you preserve the history if you're trying to show it differently? Can something beautiful like this park create a false memory of what this place used to be? Some people do not sympathize with the fact that in the place where dirt and coal used to reign, but now there is a leisurely park.
Currently the museum is showing the exhibition “GR80s. Greece in the Eighties at Technopolis” which expands all over Technopolis. It is presented in the pavilions, in the containers and inside the museum spaces. This mixture of movements and decades is interestingly presented.
This relatively new museum offers a new glance on the Athenian history adding the aspect of the industrial life. Both Technopolis and the Industrial Gas Museum are a pleasant way to spend a morning or an afternoon. If you can combine your museum visit with a concert, that would be even better!