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This eclectic collection was started in Egypt at the beginning of the 20th century by Antonis Benakis, and the main part of it, providing a vivid overview of Greece from prehistory to modern times, occupies his large family mansion. It gives an account of the Greek War of Independence, and among its pictures, costumes and curiosities is a pair of pistols apparently belonging to Lord Byron. Two icons are attributed to the Cretan painter El Greco. Benakis also built up an important Islamic collection now in the separate Keramikos building, which includes a handsome saddle from Bursa and a 17th-century reception room from Cairo. The Benaki museum is very active, curating shows that go on world tours.
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