The museums founding mission is to preserve and display works of contemporary art by Greek and foreign artists, to improve the publics aesthetic appreciation and art education, to develop scientific research into issues surrounding the history and theory of contemporary art, as well as to assist art historians and theoreticians who wish to specialize in museology.
As well as maintaining its permanent collection, the museum organizes periodic exhibitions. However, the pride and joy of the State Museum of Contemporary Art is the works in the Kostaki collection, which was bought by the Greek State on 31st March 2000 for 14,200,000,000 drachmas. This collection consists of 1,275 works of art (oil paintings, constructions, drawings etc.) The works are by well-known, avant-garde Russian artists like K. Malevich, V. Tatlin, V. Kandinsky, El. Lissitzky, and L. Popova, among others. The West became familiar with the Kostaki collection through exhibitions in D¸sseldorf, New York and Athens.
There are over a hundred works of art on display in the permanent exhibition, they are the pride of the collection and are by artists such as K. Malevich, V. Tatlin, V. Kandinsky, El. Lissitsky, L. Popova, O. Rozanova, N. Udaltsova, A. Rodchenko, S. Nikritin, I. Kliun, G. Klutsis, I. Chashnik, K. Ender, A. Drevin, I. Kudriashev, A. Sofronova, and K. Vialov. They are the best works in the collection and refer to important personages, avant-garde movements and artistic tendencies.
The museums permanent collection also contains two hundred works of art, paintings and sculptures, which were donated by the Cultural Capital 1997 Organization, and significant pieces of work donated to the museum by their artists themselves. Notable among them are ‘The Chapel of the Heavenly Stairway’ by Stylianos Antonakos, ‘Gridlock’ by Chris Giannakos and ‘Group of Four Faces’ by Giannis Avramides, all Greek artists of the diaspora.
As well as maintaining its permanent collection, the museum also organizes periodic exhibitions. ‘LIGHT in Art’ (artificial light, natural light, electric light, metaphysical light), ‘BLACK in art’, a pilot exhibition based on works by Malevic and other artists are exhibitions organized during 2002. The exhibitions ‘Composition and Constructions’ which will refer to international constructivism, and ‘Nikitin and Kliun’ with works from the Kostaki collection, will take place in 2003. These exhibitions will be held in Warehouse B1 on quay one in the city harbour, which functions as the State Museum of Contemporary Art periodic exhibition space.
The Museum of Photography and the Centre of Contemporary Art are self-contained departments of the museum.