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Oriseum Museum: Papa-Michalis Georgoulakis

We entered from a white hot street burning under the searing Cretan sun to a tranquil, shaded garden, filled with trees and old gardening equipment.

Wind chimes gently clattered among the leaves.

Papa G garden

The Museum is located in the ancient hilltop village of Asomatos, Crete. Papa Mikalis Georgoulakis was born there in 1921 and spent his whole life there. He saw that the everyday things that people discard, that were once common place soon disappear forever. The priest made it his life’s work to methodically collect and sort all kinds of objects – from lampshades to old typewriters  -preserving the todays that otherwise would have slipped  unnoticed forever into the past.

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The Museum is  peaceful and very evocative;  a collection of past lives and memories. Everything is carefully sorted and arranged – from matchboxes to old keys.

The guide book is full of entries of people moved by their visit. Going round the museum, I got the sense he must have been quite a character. One of the visitors wrote this about him:

Papa G

A photo of Papa Georgoulakis in his museum:

Papa G photo

The collections include German posters from the invasion of Crete. Signs posted by the invading German Army telling the Cretans not to resist and their beautiful land will last for thousands more years, warning them not to trade with the enemy, that anybody resisting  will  be shot on sight

There are not only glimpses of a past Crete, but also of a past family. There is a moving collection of all Papa Georgoulakis’s daughter’s shoes from age 2 to 18. Each pair tells their own story: scuffed toes, the imprints of a time when their owner wore them to laugh and cry and walk around the house where the museum is now. There is also a room containing the loom where his mother and sister would sit, their tapasteries hung all around.

It’s a sobering reminder that families are always growing and changing – the only direction of life is forward, there is no pause button.

Papa Georgoulakis died in 2008. The museum is now looked after by his son and it’s still the family home.

The Museum is wonderfully quirky and very special – an oasis of calm in a fast-moving, ever changing world.