` και ημάς οικείν,..ώσπερ περί τέλμα.. βατράχουs περί τήν θά- λατταν οίκουντας..
PLATO 109/ "Phaedοn"
Translation:,.we, who do well along the borders of the sea just like frogs about a marsh..'
The Aegean has played a decisive role in Greek Maritime History, and principally for this reason it was decided to establish the Aegean Maritime Museum on Mykonos, Delos's close neighbour, in 1983. Delos, located approximately in the centre of the Aegean, was the connecting link in antiquity for sea transport between East and West.
The purpose of the Museum is to collect, classify, study, research and display historical and scientific material and to create α nucleus that will form a centre of activity for everyone interested in studying and preserving the maritime traditions of the Aegean.
The Museum is housed in a traditional l9th century Cycladic building in the centre of the town of Mykonos; it formerly belonged to the legendary Mykonian sea captain Nikolaos Sourmelis. The rooms and spacious green garden have been suitably transformed into a harmonious setting for the display of the exhibits, which have been chosen with the object of acquainting the visitor with Greek Maritime History and Tradίtίon and in particular with the evolution and function of the merchant ship, chiefly in this historic region, from antίquity to the present day.
The Aegean Maritime Museum is a Private Foundation and has been functioning since 1985. Αll the costs of acquiring the exhibits both from Greece and abroad as well as of housing and maintaining the museum have been met by the Myconian George Μ. Dracopoulos, who is also the President of the Foundation.
To enable the visitor to follow the maritime developments, and particularly the evolution of of the merchantship in the Aegean from antiquity to the present, and thus to appreciate the wonderful continuity in the nautical tradition of the region, we have thought it helpful to give a brief review of its maritime history.
It has been an especial pleasure to learn of the foundation of the Aegean Maritime Museum. The Mykonian George Μ. Dracopoulos, a fine Greek and a patriot, made the decision and undertook its foundation οn his οwn initiative.
The place, Mykonos.
Our islands have always been the channels and receivers of civilization. But ουr islands are linked to each other and to the great civilized centres by ships. Merchant ships. They are the principal conveyors, fetching and carrying civilization to one place and transmitting it to other places further away. They above all have contributed to the spread af Greek civilization and the transmission of the Greek spirit. The spirit that, fortunately for mankind, was born in a country which, thanks to its geographical position, was able to scatter it throughout the world and inspire mankind. And naturally one's thoughts immediately turn to the precious conveyor that diffused this greatest human good around the world. The merchant ship. It has always appeared in the stream of history taking α leading part. And whenever there was need, it supplied the navy with experienced sailors. Throughout the long history of our country the merchant ship has been present, and its presence has ever signalled the critical moments in the life of Greece. It is also the messenger of the Gods. Hence the foundation of the Aegean Maritime Museum is αn important contribution to the country, and it comes to fill α great gap. Ι hope that now, as the museum constantly expands and progresses, which I see as α certainty, and is continually enriched by new exhibits, students of our country's maritime history will find in it the serious sources they need.
The establishment of the museum οn Mykonos, in addition to the founder's patriotism, is α fine example of the significance of the merchant ship. Because Ι recall that during the struggle for independence the merchant ships of Mando Mavrogenous were transformed like Iightning into men-of war. The book that G. Μ. Dracopoulos has written, gives us α full and lively picture of the development of the Merchant Marine in the Aegean and of the activity of the Aegean sea-folk from the earliest times to the present day.
Finally, Ι must express my own personal, particular, satisfaction at the founding of this important museum οn Mykonos, because Mykonos is my birthplace.
Ι should like to congratulate the founder warmly οn his brilliant inspiration, and to emphasize that Ι am sure that what his work is doing for the country is more important than he himself realizes.
Admiral Ι. Μ. Toumbas
Member of the Athens Academy