Exhibition explores incredible legacy of The Greeks

May 30, 2008

In its only North American stop, exhibition explores incredible legacy of The Greeks

Gatineau, Quebec, May 30, 2008 — The Greek world was at the origin, then at the heart, of social, cultural and political movements that touched Europe, Asia and Africa. Discover the richness of this great civilization through a collection of artifacts spanning 8,000 years of Greek history in a must-see exhibition opening May 30 at the Canadian Museum of Civilization.

The Greeks offers a captivating insight into the land of Socrates and Euclid, the Parthenon and Mount Olympus. It also explores the survival and adaptation of the Greek world within the once-mighty Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. The exhibition is organized by the prestigious Benaki Museum in Athens and features 180 treasured objects dating from prehistoric to modern times.

“This exhibition illustrates the remarkable diversity and influence of Greek art, culture and society,” said Dr. Victor Rabinovitch, President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation. “Greece has often been at the crossroads of history and the Greek people have experienced the ebb and flow of history’s fortune for thousands of years. I am delighted the Benaki Museum has shared these remarkable treasures with a Canadian audience.”

Featured in The Greeks are sculptures and ceramics, jewellery and embroidered textiles, paintings, metalwork, religious icons, toys, figurines, lamps, wooden chests and more. The artifacts bear witness to the unparalleled sweep of Greek civilization, which continues to influence the world today.

The exhibition is organized chronologically and has four principal zones: Prehistory and Antiquity (7000 BCE – fourth century CE), the Byzantine Period (fourth century – fifteenth century), The Greeks in the Ottoman Empire (fifteenth century – eighteenth century) and Towards an Independent Greek State (nineteenth century).

Among the many notable objects are a Byzantine processional cross made from moulded, hammered, engraved and punched copper; an elegant chalice in gilded silver plate, crafted during Ottoman rule, and a magnificent oil painting of the English poet Lord Byron in Greek costume, an iconic image from the Greek struggle for independence. The Museum has specially selected 12 artifacts that will be displayed nowhere else on the tour, including a striking crown of oak leaves and flowers in engraved and embossed gold leaf and a magnificent embroidered sperveri (bed tent).

The Museum of Civilization will be the only venue in Canada for the international tour of The Greeks. The exhibition is presented from May 30 to September 28, 2008.

The Benaki Museum is known internationally as a leading repository of Greek treasures. It was founded in 1930 by Antonis Benakis, who contributed his private collection, in memory of his father Emmanuel Benakis. The Greek collection now boasts more than 40,000 artifacts. The Museum also includes Coptic, Chinese, Pre-Columbian and Islamic art. The collections are housed in many locations in Athens, including the former mansion of the Benaki family in central Athens, adjacent to the Presidential Palace and the Greek National Gardens.

Media Information:

Chief, Media Relations
Canadian Museum of Civilization
Tel.: 819 776-7167

Media Relations Officer
Canadian Museum of Civilizat