In 2014 the old D. Nomikos tomato canning factory in Vlychada, Santorini was transformed into a modern Tomato Industrial Museum, which also operates as the Santorini Arts Factory, an arts and cultural events venue.
The Tomato Industrial Museum offers visitors a trip down memory lane and the old ways of cultivating, processing and producing tomatoes.
The Museum’s exhibits include processing machines from 1890, old hand-written factory logs, old tools, the first labels, as well as audiovisual testimony recorded from factory workers.
The Tomato Industrial Museum is well-thought-out and follows the tomato-processing phases for each machine, along with the overall development of the plant, from the time that Dimitrios Nomikos began producing tomato paste at his manually operated workshop in Messaria in 1915. In 1922 he built in Santorini one of the first canning factories “in the Balkans” as he himself used to say, using imported ‘cutting edge’ technology.
In 1945, Giorgos Nomikos, Dimitrios’s son, built the factory in question at Vlychada. At the time it was the most productive business in Santorini, producing 3,500 baskets of tomatoes a day. Interestingly, the factory produced both the tomato paste and the cans it was packed in. A small unit within the plant produced cans out of sheets of tin using coal from Kymi (Evia) as a fuel source initially. Later they switched to diesel.
The late 1950s were the high point for tomato production on the island. There were some nine factories producing the ‘red gold’ which was loaded onto wooden ships and sold across the country, pressing home the advantage of the early crop and creating jobs and relative prosperity on Santorini.
However in the years that followed, tourism began to grow exponentially whereas tomato cultivation was left by the wayside, forcing the factory to close after the last harvest was processed in 1981.
The restoration of this space thirty years later is an act of historical memory, an offering to Santorini’s present-day society as well as a tool for the promotion of the island’s cultural identity internationally.
Tomato Industrial Museum “D. Nomikos”
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