EMΣΤ regards art and visual culture as a transformative element in education, knowledge production, storytelling and a tool for the advocacy of progressive and emancipatory values. The museum focuses on practices that cast a critical eye on society at large and its political urgencies, examining key issues of our times such as democracy, governance, equity, economics, the environment, the effects of globalisation and the dominance of technology, while highlighting the importance of public life and dialogue. By placing emphasis on thematic and group exhibitions of contemporary art, as well as other forms of visual culture, EMΣT develops narratives that try to make sense of our complex present, a time in which humanity struggles to keep up with the galloping pace of change. EMΣT aims not merely to reflect the zeitgeist, but rather to foster an understanding of our past choices from the perspective of present circumstances, with a view to the future.



One of the museum’s aims is to stimulate creative memory practices that challenge the prevalent culture of presentism and amnesia. While maintaining an international perspective and presenting cutting-edge contemporary art that has something to say about the state of the world and the challenges facing humanity today, EMΣT is also grounded within its specific geopolitical space. At a time of institutional crisis and the proliferation of the globalist, one-size-fits-all franchise museum model, EMΣT carves out its own position, true to the hybrid identity of Greece, a country shaped both by Eastern or Levantine as well as European and Western influences. Taking advantage of its location in Athens, a dynamic and multicultural Mediterranean metropolis, the museum, additionally, focuses on the rich and contested histories of the geographical space it is a part of; a space which includes the Balkans, Turkey, the near Middle East and North Africa. Here, cultures, diasporic currents and religions merge and confront each other, yielding rich and often unknown, forgotten or marginalised narratives. Acknowledging that it is impossible to include all contemporary art from all over the globe, the museum especially looks into the multiple narratives of its own regional historical, political and cultural inheritance, in addition to specific global issues that concern us all.

ΕΜΣΤ showcases international art but also considers it within its mission to seek out, support and promote contemporary Greek art, which is largely unknown beyond the country’s borders, by raising awareness of Greek artists through solo exhibitions and other events and by fostering an international exchange. At the same time, the museum focuses on the rich artistic and avant-garde legacy of the Greek diaspora, one of the archetypal global diasporas, a large part of which has never been fully acknowledged, and perhaps even deliberately marginalised in Greece itself.


At a time when museums are called upon, often unrealistically, to perform an impossible array of roles without having the necessary resources, EMΣT does not lose sight of its primary role as a cultural institution. During a period in which many museums struggle to replicate functions that were once given to social care or welfare services that have significantly been undermined, ΕΜΣΤ aims to spread awareness of civic values, realizing that it cannot be a substitute for organized social policy. EMΣT takes a focused and measured approach to cultural production, allowing time for artistic creation and contemplation, striving for sustainable practices and generating unique spaces for public discussion. The museum is a space in which social and political issues are negotiated through the unique transformative lens of contemporary art and culture. Exhibitions are at the epicentre of the museum’s activities, as we believe them to be the primary vehicle through which art can inspire, encourage critical thought and excite the imagination. Our public programme plays an important complementary role for the museum, aiming to reach a wider audience, while our education programme addresses diverse social groups of children, including those from disenfranchised groups. EMΣT aims to be a continuously thinking museum, one which invigorates the imagination and stimulates new perspectives on our common reality and circumstances. It encourages us to question the status quo, think about how we behave as citizens in the public domain, and towards each other privately and socially. As a public institution, EMΣT emphasises culture as that which exists beyond mere economic value, and considers art as an inclusive rather than a privileged or exclusive right. The museum aims to foster an understanding of our present condition, how it has been shaped by the past, and how each of us might play a part in improving or changing it. EMΣT believes that art and culture in general are vital to ‘thinking the world’, creating new values for the future, and imagining it otherwise. Last but not least, as an institution in a country known internationally for its hospitality, EMΣT plans to actively continue this tradition for artists and audiences alike.


EMΣT advocates and enforces fair pay for artists and cultural practitioners, and does not condone the precarious labour practices that are still widespread within the field of contemporary visual arts. It commits to paying all artists and arts professionals who work with or exhibit in the museum and cultivates ‘best practices’ both in terms of presenting artistic work, as well as in providing the optimum conditions for artistic research and production. While creating opportunities for young artists, curators and writers, especially within Greece itself, the museum condemns ageism – the effect of an art market that is always obsessed with new, young artists – and gives equal opportunity to mid-career and older artists. EMΣT aims to bring contemporary art and visual culture to a broader audience in a country where antiquity has long dominated culture, often at the expense of the modern and contemporary. Finally, as climate change becomes the most important global challenge facing us today, ΕΜΣΤ’s future objective is to become more sustainable, to minimise its energy and environmental footprint, and to develop public awareness of sustainability and environmental protection/conservation.