The GREEKS: Agamemnon to Alexander the Great Review – A Rare and Historic Opportunity

Welcome to The GREEKS, Agememnon to Alexander the Great

So much to see

Remembering museums I had seen when in Greece heightened my interest in seeing “The Greeks–Agamemnon to Alexander the Great” which draws from the collections of 21 museums throughout Greece, making it the largest exhibition of its kind to tour North America in 25 years. The most memorable experience for me at that time was the Museum of Prehistoric Thera in Santorrini “Noteworthy among the numerous exhibits from the period when the city at Akrotiri was at its zenith (17th century BC) are the plaster casts of furniture, the household equipment, the bronze vessels, tools and weapons, the objects that bear witness to the practice of metalworking..”   The garbage collection system and other seemingly modern practices going back so many years blew my mind.

Funerary Mask (replica) Mycenae, 19th century replica of 16th century BC object Archeological Museum of Mycenae (Photo: courtesy of the Field Museum)

Grasp the handle of this sword

 

The Greeks currently at the Field Museum  through April 10, 2016 provides a broad spectrum for visitors.  This exhibition encompasses 5000 years of Greek history including 500 artifacts from 21 Greek Museums.  Developed by the Hellenic Ministry of Culture, Education and Religious Affairs (Athens, Greece), The Field Museum (Chicago, USA), The National Geographic Museum (Washington, DC, USA), Pointe-à-Callière, Montreal Archaelogy and History Complex (Montreal, Canada), and the Canadian Museum of History (Gatineau, Canada).  The Field Museum is the exhibition’s third stop on the way from Canada to Washington, DC.  A generous contribution of the John P. Calamos Foundation and John P. Calamos, Sr., Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the National Hellenic Museum made this exhibition possible.  The National Hellenic Museum is a co-sponsor and is presenting companion programming and exhibitions to The Greeks.  In addition, once this exhibition departs from the Field Museum, the National Hellenic Museum is the place to visit to find out more about Greek history and culture.

Game description

 

Touch these Mycenaean "Signatures"

Alexander's father, Philip II

Some aspects of this exhibition that make it so special include the artifacts, of course, but in addition, signage, posters, hands on objects, and videos convey the story the begins before the various people of Greece were brought under the leadership of one individual and moves forward to a time when democracy prevailed.

 

Cast a ballot

Use of color/hands on

 

Remains of a spine

Field Museum curator William Parkinson says about this exhibition that it shows the emergence of Greek culture from its roots in early agricultural villages of the Neolithic to the imperial expansion of Alexander.  Further, he says, “This exhibition is not your typical art historical display of vases and statues; it really gives the visitor an opportunity to see the evolution not only of art, but also of Greek culture, politic, and economics over the long-term.”

Statues

 

 

Some of the items on display include: stone figures from the Cycladic Islands, gold funerary masks from Bronze Age tombs, classical marble statues of Greek poets, athletes, and heroes, and brightly painted ceramic vases featuring scenes from Greek mythology and daily life.  Some of the objects were fascinating, others amazing, and still others, breathtaking. This opportunity to view so many artifacts at the same time in the same place is not likely to be repeated so see this while you can.

 

Elizabeth Martin, Executive Director, National Hellenic Museum

Continue the Journey

Myrtle Wreath, Gold enamel, Stravroupolis, 350-325 BC, Archaelogical Museum of Thessaloniki (Photo: Courtesy of Field Museum)

I had the opportunity to speak with Marie Georg who is part of the Exhibition Developer Consortium.  She explained that when an exhibition is received her team needs to determine the best way to display the parts of the exhibition in the space available at the Field Museum.  She talked about representatives from the museums in Greece being on hand to unpack the items when they received.  She also mentioned that the scripts come in already done and decision about where to place posters and objects are the responsibility of her consortium.

Marie Georg,Exhibition Developer Cortium

A word from the philosophers

Alexander the Great after death

Soon after my visit to this exhibition, I had the unexpected opportunity to speak with a couple both of whom are researchers at the Field Museum.  It was serendipity that while waiting to board a plane to Houston, Texas, I asked where they were going.  My wait time flew by as I listened to Gary M. Feinman, MacArthur Curator of Anthropology Integrative Research Center and his wife, Linda Nicholas, researcher explain their work and the back story to creating an exhibition.  They have the opportunity to spend time in Mexico and in China for their work.  Gary is involved in the upcoming exhibition on the Terra Cotta warriors coming in March.

 

NOTE: curioCITY is a new program offered by The Field Museum that will take place on a quarterly basis. The goal of the program is to make learning fun for students by teaming up scientists from different areas of natural history with professionals in other fields. All curioCITY events are free for teens aged 14-18 with high school or state-issued ID. Registration is required.

Photos: B. Keer

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