The Academy, the higher education institution, of the United States of the Ionian Islands was established in Corfu in 1824, thanks to the generosity of the English philhellene Frederic North, earl of Guilford, and to the initiative of the Ionian State. It has been the first University in the history of Modern Greek education. It comprised four schools: Law, Theology, Medicine and Philosophy (courses of natural sciences and mathematics were also taught). Later, the technology institution, the school of obstetrics and the school of pharmacy were established. In the schools of Theology and Philosophy taught well-known scholars, like Andreas Kalvos, Christoforos Filitas, Konstantinos Asopios, Theoklitos Farmakidis, Neofytos Vamvas, Petros Vrailas-Armenis and more. From the beginning of the 19th century and until the union of the Ionian Islands with modern Greece in 1864, when the Academy closed, a notable literary movement has begun. This movement contributed a lot in the spiritual enlightenment of the modern Greeks. The Academy was housed in an imposing three-story building in south-western side of Spianada square, which used to serve as barracks. After the death of Frederic North in 1827, the financial resources became limited and the decline of the Academy began. In 1864 it closed to support the newly established University of Athens. Some of the professors were hired in Athens, where it moved the Academy’s library, too. Since 1941, the building was hosting only the Municipal Library and the Junior High school, while in 1943 was burnt down by German bombardments. Half a century later, it was rebuilt for the needs of the Ionian University and it operates this way until today. In that building is housed the International and Public Relations Department, in 1 Kapodistriou Street.
It reopened in 1995 in the palace of Saint Michael and Saint George, core of the Historical museum of the city and of the entire island of Corfu. The works of the permanent exhibition of the Gallery consist doubtless evidence of the artistic and intellectual flourishing of the island. The biggest part of the collection of the Gallery includes works of Corfiot painters of the 19th century (Ch. Pachis, P. Prosalentis, A. Giallinas, V. Bokatsiampis, S. Skarvelis, L. Kogevinas, G. Samartzis) They are also exhibited collections of works mainly constituted by donated works (the Samartzis, the Papa, the Makotsis and the Ventouras collection) . The major trends in the works of Corfiot painters of the 19th century are not only related to the academic trends of that period, but are also related to the influence they were getting from Italian painting. In the late 19th century a turn of these artists to the Impressionism is noticed. The palace of Saint Michael and Saint George, where the Gallery along with the Museum of Asian Art are housed, was a work of the years 1819-1924. It consist an important monument of the period of the British occupation. It is one of the first buildings of neoclassical style in Greece. It was named “Place of Saint Michael and Saint George”, because the building was the home of the homonym Order. There were also the offices and the houses of the English Commissioners. Until the union of the Ionian Islands with Greece (1864) the palace was home of the Ionian Senate and Parliament. After 1864, it served as summer residence of the Greek royal family, while it housed the archaeological collection of Corfu.
The will of the people of the Ionian Islands for their unification with Greece was developed and expressed in the Ionian Parliament. The unification with Greece was validated with a resolution of the Ionian Parliament on 23 September 1863. The building was designed by Ioannis Chronis and it was constructed in 1855. It is a neoclassical building with Doric columns that decorate its typical entrance. It was restored in 1978 and since then, it constitutes the seat of the Museum dedicated to the fight for freedom of the Ionian Islands.
Τhe Municipal and Regional Theatre of Corfu (DI.PE.THE) was inaugurated on Christmas day of 1998. It has hosted many theatre productions in all of its stages (Central, Children’s, and Experimental). For its productions a great number of creators and artists came together of which many were Corfiots and students at the Ionian University. The productions mentioned above were attended by spectators from cities in Greece and in Italy, where scheduled tours took place.
A multidimensional culture and recreation center situated in the Old Town of Corfu and more specifically in the New Fortress, a 16th century construction, important for its defensive technique and architecture. Polytechno is one of the most active cultural sites in Greece and is also the reference point for the local contemporary artistic creation. It gives the opportunity to many creative people to express themselves and constitutes the link between the artistic departments of the Ionian University and the public, maintaining a fruitful cooperation with the Music Studies and the Audio and Visual Arts Department. Polytechno is a hotspot for new but also for renowned artists from Greece and abroad; it has hosted painting, sculpting, photograph and facilities exhibitions, while it has also cooperated with significant cultural institutes in Athens, festivals and cultural initiatives, so far. Polytchehno also offers seminars, movie and/or documentary screenings and art workshops for children.
The Department of Audiovisual Arts was founded in 2004 under the EPEAEK programme, in order to cover this lack for the first time in our country. It is a hybrid Department where emphasis is put on the convergence of art and technology in research and teaching. The result of this interaction is in line with current international research data of digital culture.