Since its establishment in 1984, the Bank of Cyprus Cultural Foundation has developed a wealth of activities, in keeping with the objectives originally delineated for the Cultural Foundation by the Bank of Cyprus. The Foundation’s main strategic aims are to encourage the research and study of Cypriot civilisation in the fields of archaeology, history, art and literature as well as to preserve and disseminate the cultural and natural heritage of Cyprus, with a particular emphasis on the international promotion of the island’s centuries-long Greek civilisation.
The Cultural Foundation is housed in the old administrative building of the Bank of Cyprus, which was built in 1936 and is situated in the historical center of Nicosia near Phaneromeni Church.
The Foundation keeps five Cyprological collections:
Coins - Maps - Rare Books & Manuscripts, Engravings, Old Photographs & Watercolours - Contemporary Cypriot Art and the Archaeological Collection.
Further, the Cultural Foundation curates two museums: the Museum of the History of Cypriot Coinage and the Archaeological Museum of George and Nefeli Giabra Pierides (donated by Clio and Solon Triantafyllides).
The Cultural Foundation Collections have been enriched over the years by a number of donations: In 2008, by the archive of photographs of Μanuel Baud-Bovy and Aristea Tzanou Baud-Bovy, in 1999, by the Archaeological Collection of George and Nefeli Giabra Pierides, donated by Clio and Solon Triantafyl- lides, in 1993, by the Map Collection of Antonakis and Laura Georgiades, in 1988, by the Map Collection of Mikis and Agnes Michaelides, in 1987, by fifty-one of Elektra Megaw’s watercolours under the general theme “Wildflowers of Cyprus”.
One manner by which the Cultural Foundation achieves its objectives is the publication of books and folios that pertain to archaeology, history, art, literature and the environment. This is precisely why the Foundation periodically organises exhibitions, lectures and scientific conferences devoted to these areas. In addition to the above, the Cultural Foundation has expanded its activities overseas, collaborating closely with major organisations and museums, both in Cyprus and abroad. Since its inception, it has held more than forty-five exhibitions in Cyprus, in Greece, and in a number of European cities. In February 2000 it opened a branch in Greece.
Both Cypriot and foreign institutions have recognized the incessant, multifaceted activities of the Cultural Foundation. Some of the awards garnered by the Foundation are indicative of its recognition:
The Republic of Cyprus “Archaeology Award” (2008)
Benaki Museum (2007)
The Historical and Ethnological Society of Greece (1991)
The International Map Collectors’ Society – IMCoS (1990)
In June 2013, the Cultural Foundation absorbed the whole of the operations of the Cultural Centre of the former Laiki Bank. The Laiki Bank Cultural Centre was established in 1983. The Centre has been proactive in preserving, promoting and enhancing Cyprus’ cultural scene. Its primary focus was in the fields of Art, History, Education and Publications. Its annual framework of activities included exhibitions, educational programmes and the preservation of Cyprus’ historical heritage through the Bank’s Collections of Contemporary Cypriot Art, Rare Books, Documents and Photographs related to Cyprus and the Middle East region. Large-scale projects and programmes aimed at researching and documenting Cypriot culture have been systematically promoted over the years. The publication programme of the Centre, which focuses on books that present important aspects of the history and life of Cyprus, comprises more than forty editions.
In June 2013, the Collections of the Cultural Centre were transferred for safekeeping at the “Collections Hall” of the Bank of Cyprus Cultural Foundation, in the Phaneromeni Building. Here, the Collections will be kept unimpaired and registered in the Archives of the Cultural Foundation as “Closed Collections” with a separate code, in order to historically preserve their identity. The Cultural Foundation also takes on the management of the Pierides Museum with its Collections. All salvaged historical documents, printed matter, machines etc of the former Laiki Bank will be gathered in the Historical Archive of the Bank of Cyprus in the Phaneromeni Building, before being registered in its Archives under a special unit, for historical and scientific purposes.
The Cultural Centre’s Publications will be available for purchase at Agora,
the Cultural Foundation’s Shop, and on the Internet.
As the oldest banking institution on the island the Bank of Cyprus has, played a crucial role in the economic development of Cyprus since its foundation in 1899. Indeed, the economic history of Cyprus in the twentieth century is directly and indirectly related to the activities of the Bank of Cyprus. This is especially true of the period after 1960 when Cyprus gained its political independence.
Since then, the Bank of Cyprus added a new dimension to its activities on the island as well as abroad: it became a pioneer and a major benefactor in the cultural field, directing a substantial percentage of its annual profits toward cultural projects. Currently, the Bank and its group of companies are clearly the most visible sponsors of cultural and scholarly pursuits on Cyprus. In this regard, it has adopted a tradition established by banks in Greece and in turn stimulated similar action by other financial and philanthropic institutions in Cyprus.
In 1986, Andy Ioannides designed the emblem for the Bank of Cyprus Cultural Foundation. The emblem depicts an archiere or skylight. As the artist himself wrote in an explanatory note, when designing the emblem he took the following considerations into account:
"Through its emblem the Bank of Cyprus identifies itself with antiquity and the history of Cyprus, particularly its people (KOINON KYΠPIΩN – ‘Community of the Cypriots’). In the light of that and in the same spirit, the Cultural Foundation of the Bank of Cyprus uses an example of popular expression in art (depiction of part of a small skylight), contributing in this way to a holistic expression of the character of the island.
As is only natural the sun, the kernel of life, should find functional expression in popular art since, over and above its metaphoric importance, it is also a characteristic feature of the country".
The function of the skylight is directly related to the light that metaphorically expresses spiritual being. The very design of the archiere schematically describes the movement of the sun. The square, which is used to portray absolute stillness, surrounds a circle, which expresses perpetual motion. The two shapes (square and circle) are in harmony in their relationship to a common irradiating centre.
If the emblem is used with the words "Bank of Cyprus Cultural Foundation", the empty external space itself between the figure and the letters denotes the notion of movement, which is proportionate to the internal movement of the design itself.