In 1981, Larissian virtuoso surgeon C. I. Katsigras announced the donation of 700 paintings from the 19th and 20th century collected by him from 1950 to about 1965. In 1983, the Board of Larissa founded the organization 'Municipal Art Gallery of Larissa - GI Museum Katsigras', including the aforementioned donation and works already owned by the City Council. From 1992 to 2003 the works of the Katsigras collection were exhibited on two floors of Chatzigianneio Municipal Cultural Centre.
Today the Gallery is housed in a modern new building in Neapolis Quarter.Τhe contractor ’s choice was decided after a Panhellenic Architectural Competition in 1984. Construction began in 1991 and completed in 2003 when it was inaugurated by the former President of the Republic Mr. Stephanopoulos. The building’s functionality complies with the highest museological standards as it is organized according to modern museological and museographic studies. It was procured with all the appropriate equipment.
The building’s plot of land is of 10,000 m2. It has two floors with a total area of 7.285 m2 basement (ground floor - 2.788 m2, upper floor - 2.513 m2 Basement - 1,983 m2).
The ground floor includes: a library (250 m2), an auditorium 250 seats (400 m2), cafeteria, foyer (480 m2), art workshops, administration offices. The first floor includes: G.I.Katsigra museum, exhibition space (1000 m2), relaxation areas, outdoor exhibition spaces. The basement includes: conservation laboratories and storage rooms, general stores, photo lab, heating, spaces for Security guards.
Core of the Gallery is the Katsigras collection, consisting of 700 original works and 50 more, donated in 1998 by GI Katsigras. This collection includes fine examples of 19th century painting (Lytras Iakovidis, Gizis, Duke, Volonakis, Savvides, Vikatos etc.) as well as 20th century painting (Galanis, Gounaropoulos, N. And II. Lytras Maleas, Trantafyllidis, Parthenis, Steris, Regos, Goldasis etc.), oil paintings, watercolors, drawings and engravings. It stretches as recently as the 1960s.
The Katsigras collection is estimated by experts, the National Gallery ‘s directors, art historians and painters as possibly the best and most important after the National Gallery‘s and Koutlidis collections.
Also exhibited is Larissa‘s Municipal collection, consisting of 210 works of mainly local artists. Since its inception in 1983, the gallery has acquired other 200 paintings, sculptures and engravings, many donated by the artists themselves (B. Katraki, Bost, Sari, Prekas, Asteriadis Tassos and others) and is still acquiring new ones after its Art Commission proposals.
GI Katsigras also donated the priceless collectible furnishings of his clinic, previously owned by Heinrich Schliemann and designed by E. Ziller. He also offered his collection of books and art magazines (about 1200 titles), many of which are of scarce, depleted or rare editions.
According to its statute, the Municipal Art Gallery of Larissa sets the initial objectives:
- Running reports in all areas of visual arts for the promotion and dissemination of art.
- The operation of free workshops and a classroom, the organization and full functionality of its library (consisting of a reading room and lending in the visual arts), organization of lectures and events generally related to Fine Arts.
- Promotion of local artistic creation.
- Rescue, conservation and dissemination of the work of folk art.
- Cooperation with other organizations of similar purposes, artists and their unions.
The new building includes:
- 1st floor fairgrounds (area 2,510 sq.m.)
- Meeting room and and Board ‘s and President ‘s offices
- Reception, Shop, Showroom of versions of M.A.G.
- Bookstore, Art publications and other brochures.
- Auditorium 220 seat capacity, well equipped for lectures, screenings, workshops, musical events etc.
- Spaces for Free Workshops, teaching and administration offices.
Basement Lab Photography and warehouses for storage of art works, maintenance workshops.
The M.A.G. It is a public entity andand thus managed by a 11-member Board which is renewed every four years. According to the donor's request, it ’s President is the current Mayor of Larissa. The remaining members are appointed proportionally from the wings of the City Council and alternated periodically.
The Artistic Committee is an advisory body appointed by the Board and involves 7 members, artists, historians of art originating from Larissa and other cities.
Mr. Kantzourakis Kyriakos – Artist
Mrs. Karapidaki Louisa – Art Historian
Mr. Bolis Giannis – Art Historian
Mrs. Tsiatsiou Theodora – Artist
Mrs. Tsikouta Lina – Art Historian
Library Function: The core collection of GI Katsigras‘s books and its continuous enrichment with art books, albums, catalogs, magazines, theoretical texts etc allowed for the creation of a remarkable Art library, covering the needs of students, the public and researchers in Thessaly and the rest of Greece.
The canteen of the Municipal Gallery, situated in front of its garden, is a vibrant part of the building, functioning independently and presenting to the visitor a pleasant atmosphere, good music and a vast choice of events and interesting happenings.