“Great the State of the Sea”
It is a rocky island of the Argosaronic Gulf, but its existence was well known by the English Admiralty, and the likes of Napoleon and Kapoudan Pasha. Whether by sail or steam, the Arvanites captains carved grooves that will never be lost. To salvage the memory of all the struggles, culture and nobility, the tradition of Greek benefaction had to play its part here. A doctor and mayor of the island, Antonios Lignos, gathered and catalogued documents and original manuscripts from the island’s archives. Also, ship owner and benefactor, Gikas Koulouras, built and offered the original building of the Archive-Museum. Since 1996, when the more recent building was officially inaugurated, the Museum receives numerous daily visitors and researchers, enabling them to tour it’s truly impressive venues.
The exhibits are spread over two floors comprising a panorama of the contribution of Hydra in modern Greek history: figureheads, flags, guns and mêlée weapons, uniforms, relics of the Revolution, the Balkan and World Wars, a large collection of portraits and watercolors, the Charter of Rigas Feraios, a separate section with mementoes of the intrepid admiral Pavlos Kountouriotis that sealed through his brave spirit the naval and political history of the 20th century, and "most honorable of all", the silver urn with the embalmed heart of admiral Andreas Miaoulis.
The archive section of the museum utilizes and provides researchers access to material from many and varied sources. The archive of the Hydra Community, other state archives, private collections and personal archives, offer a treasure trove of data concerning Hydra and the wider Greek history in the chronological period from the 18th to the 20th century. Information from sources is complemented by the museum's rich library, which holds many incunabula and rare books, and is constantly updated, particularly in the fields of interest to historians and archivists.
Publications, exhibitions, conferences, lectures, book presentations, concerts, theater and dance performances, contained within the grand event entitled "Cultural Summer Hydra" constitute the constant presence of the Archive-Museum in the cultural life of the country. The special sensitivity of the people of Archive-Museum towards Greek seafaring tradition manifests itself in the care of rescuing traditional vessels with a main reference being the traditional "launch" HELEN P. , of which the lengthy salvage efforts aim at establishing the first floating maritime museum of a public character.