Posts Tagged ‘Hellenic Museum’

Inspirations and Repercussions

Posted in General on December 28th, 2011 by Eugene Finerman – 5 Comments

1st US museum dedicated to Greek culture opens: 


December 28, 2011 (CHICAGO) — There is still plenty to see: shelves filled with items from a Greek family in New York, a wall of black and white pictures that chronicles the story of Greek immigrants in America and an area to learn the Greek alphabet. Visitors can watch a short introductory video narrated by, who else, George Stephanopoulos.

Museum curator Bethany Fleming hopes to travel to Greece and make casts of columns, gates and parts of temples to bring back to Chicago.

Downstairs the temporary exhibit space is home to “Gods, Myths and Mortals: Discover Ancient Greece,” an exhibit on loan from the Children’s Museum of Manhattan until August. It’s a child’s view of the daily life of ancient Greece and its legends and heroes, like Aristotle, Odysseus and Cyclops.

There’s a kid-sized recreated Greek temple, and children can dress up in togas in front of a mirror or crawl into a jungle-gym Trojan horse. Interspersed are nearly three dozen Greek artifacts, including coins, pottery and figurines. One Macedonian drachma coin dates to 336-323 B.C. and is about the size of a dime.

“So much of our world is inspired by the ancient.”

From Aristotle to Nick’s’ Coffee Shop—and nothing in between?  The Hellenic museum doesn’t seem enamoured with its medieval heritage.  The Byzantines, however annoying, were also significant and certainly deserve their own exhibition. We can call it   “Dogma, Bureaucracy and Arrogance:  The Unbearable Genius of Byzantium.”

Children can experience the fun of being a medieval Greek.  We can have contests to see who can come up with the most convoluted definition of the Trinity.  (There is never a right answer, at least for more than 30 minutes.)  The little Byzantines can then use their rhetorical guile to avoid being beaten up by bigger German and Slavic kids.  Being the brightest kid in the class–in fact, the only literate one–be sure to help the biggest Slavic kid with his homework.  You will make a lasting friend, one who will be nursing your grudges when you are long gone.

However, as a little Byzantine, you don’t have to nice to the Italian kids.  Slap them around, take their lunch money, threaten to break their crayons, and dare them to start their own church.  Be sure to bully the Egyptians and Syrians, too; it is not as if they would defect the empire and convert to another religion.

To avoid lawsuits from the Art Institute, we won’t teach the children about Iconoclasm.  Nonetheless, our exhibit will give visitors an appreciation of our Byzantine legacies–religious schism, the Middle East and the Cold War.  Our world may be the heir of Athens, but it is also the repercussion of Constantinople.