Christos Kalemkeris was born in Thessaloniki in 1930 from parents from Asia Minor. He lived the difficult years of the occupation in Kalamaria. From a very young age, his entrepreneurial genius found a way out, first in the confectionery industry, later in the textile industry and finally in construction. However, in parallel with his main work, his great love for his homeland is born and ignites, which will push him in the search and collection of objects of historical value.
Initially, he was involved in the collection of stamps that enabled him to immerse himself in the history of each place and to build it himself gradually. The gold medals in European competitions, culminating in the award of the Ionian State History through postal history, after bringing him the last distinction and recognition in the circle of European collectors, pushed him to turn to the collection of historical photographs very early, even their sale flourished in European auction houses.
From the 1970s, his passion for photography led him to all the major cities in Europe, to the biggest European auction houses, searching and “hitting” the photos that he felt were advertising his place worldwide and that they belonged to him. He felt it his national duty to repatriate these national works of art and to establish his own private collection.
Gradually created one of the largest in value and content photo files. His travels in Europe, his visits to museums, his thirst for knowledge of the history of Greece, broadened his passion for photography. Over time, he became more involved in the collectible puzzles of old photographs: second-hand shops in Europe’s major cities became his permanent hangouts, and he also penetrated auction houses, first as a buyer and later as an appraiser. By 2001, when he donated his collection to the Municipality of Kalamaria, he had managed to establish himself both as a collector and as a specialist in collectible photography.
The experience from abroad created in Christos Kalemkeris the desire to establish a museum as well. So, he made the decision to donate the material he created with effort and deposit of personal property. Contacts for the creation of a museum began with the then Minister of Culture Mr. Venizelos. The purpose was to integrate the archive in the Museum of Photography of Thessaloniki. However, for reasons of ethics, Mr. Kalemkeris chose to donate his valuable material to his particular homeland, Kalamaria.
Indeed, in 2001 Christos Kalemkeris donated his archive to the Municipality of Kalamaria, which founded the Museum of Photography as an Entity of Legal Law. A part of the archive was purchased by the Municipality of Kalamaria, as a sign of honor in his person. For this reason the Museum bears his name, and he was awarded by the municipality as a Grand Donor. Christos Kalemkeris, as the founder and president of the Museum, delimited and coordinated his action plan in the field of exhibitions and publications, creating with a very small group of collaborators a publishing and exhibition center of nationwide scope. In October 2016, he left voluntarily, passing on his vision to his successors.
The Museum aims to disseminate the art and technique of photography. His priority is the contact of the public with the history of Greece, to touch its cultural heritage and to experience the awakening of its historical memo Our Vision is to be a Cultural body worthy of those abroad, not so much in size but in quality and dynamics that we become a means of transmitting the History of the Spirit and Culture of Greece around the world.
A hidden desire since the founding of the Kalemkeris Museum, is its permanent housing in a space worthy of its dynamics and expectations. That of the Kodra camp where we hope with the given commitment and support of our Mayor to finally find a way for the vision to take shape soon.
New exhibitions of high aesthetics based on modern museum standards, always maintaining the historical – and scientific – consistency that is the basic principle and value of the Museum by its Founder Christos Kalemkeris
Use of new technologies & effective means, offering an harmonious coupling of the past and history with the modern era and the future.
Development of the Museum’s activities in exhibitions, publications, educational programs, audiovisual events, events of various cultural interest, etc.
Synergies with public and private cultural institutions with priority the Municipality of Kalamaria.
This is an extensive photographic material that concerns all the styles that have developed from the genesis of photography until today and is a relevant study of the prehistory and history of photography.
Systematic recording and archiving of photographs of all professional photographers, Greek and foreign, who worked in Greece in the 19th century. Among them, Filippos Margaritis, Dimitrios Konstantinou, Petros Moraitis and other photographers stand out as excellent examples of their work, which belong to the archival material of the Museum.
Famous Greek photographers who worked as professionals abroad.
Capture of photographs of the first important foreign and Greek travelers who photographed various regions and cities of Greece with special emphasis on their archaeological wealth.
Photographs of the Greek archeological monuments of Asia Minor and Italy and Egyptian antiquities by the greatest Greek and foreign photographers of the 19th century.
Albums with photographs covering thematically prominent cities of the Mediterranean states of the 19th century.
The archive of the Museum includes photographic documents from wars that played a decisive role in the history of modern Hellenism, such as:
Greek-Turkish War 1897 (Thessaly).
First Balkan War 1912. Unpublished album by the British photojournalist Haworth J. Woodley, donated to the successor Constantine and later King of Greece. An album by a French war correspondent and photojournalist on the occupation of Lemnos by the Greek fleet and the subsequent naval battles of Lemnos and Greece against the Turkish fleet. Occupation of Imvros and Tenedos and Mount Athos by the Greek forces.
Second Balkan War. Album by Zeitz and the Romaidis Brothers on the subject of the battles of the Greek army against the Bulgarian forces.
World War I. Photos from the Entente forces and the front of the battles with the Central Powers.
World war II. The destruction of the port of Thessaloniki by the Germans.
Asia Minor campaign. Photographic material from all phases of the military operations of the Greek army.
Portraits of important personalities who played an important role in Greek history and culture. Kings, politicians, writers, artists, etc.
Military, political, civil and all kinds of traditional costumes from all regions of Greece that compose the history of Greek costume design
Rare albums and individual photos of the cities of Greece by distinguished Greek and foreign photographers of the 19th century.
Albums and photos of the four Railway Networks of Greece, which fully cover the history of trains. The material, accompanied by a scientific text, is the Encyclopedia of the History of the Greek Railways, which won the Athens Academy Award in 2006.
Albums and photographs of the centers of Hellenism in Asia Minor by Greek and foreign photographers.
Recording of all Greek and foreign professional photographers who lived and worked in Istanbul and Smyrna.
Postcards of various themes, signed by Greek and foreign photographers.
Samples of photographs that cover all the techniques of the history of photography from its birth until today (daguerreotypes, fine prints, ambrotypes, negative glasses, plantain prints, cyan prints, slides, films, etc.) as well as prominent samples of the prehistory of photography, etc of the art of engraving.
The collection is accessible to the public mainly through exhibitions and publications. Selected photos are published on the internet, on the official website of the Museum and on social media.
The archive, a collection of about 50,000 photographs from the 19th and 20th centuries, is the heart of the Museum. Through the lens of the most important Greek photographers, ethnographic, landscape and historical aspects of the Mediterranean are revealed to us, monuments, landscapes, but also people are captured in their daily life and in exceptional situations. At the same time, the archive highlights the history of Greek photography. The subset of the archive with reference to each important creator reflects both his personal path (as a traveler, artist, photojournalist) and the evolution of the art of photography (photography techniques, appearance) over the years.
With particular intensification and focus in recent years, the Museum has developed partnerships with many public and private entities with several of which have built an excellent relationship of mutual respect and cooperation.