The birth of Greek art in the protohistoric Aegean, the development of Classical culture and its gradual dissemination all over the Mediterranean basin constitutes one of the most influential phenomena in the history of western civilization. The MCA holds a large collection of Ancient Greek Art with representative artifacts from all periods between the Middle Bronze Age (2nd millennium BC) to the very end of the Roman period (4th c. AD).
The collection is exhibited on the 2nd and 4th floor of the Main Building under the titles A History in Images and Scenes from Daily Life in Antiquity.
The permanent exhibition on the 4th floor of the Main Building tries to transform our knowledge about daily life in antiquity (as provided by ancient texts and archaeological objects) into vivid images.
Visitors are invited into a virtual tour in time and space: the tours starts from the world of the supernatural (gods) and the myth (heroes), goes through the realm of Eros, follows the activities of everyday women and men in their private and public life, explores their religious behaviour, and concludes with their attitudes against death and their beliefs about afterlife and the Underworld.
One hundred forty two objects - mostly dating to the Classical και Hellenistic periods (5th-1st c. BC) - are grouped in nine separate units treating the following thematic areas:
- Gods and Heroes
- On the wings of Eros
- Toiletry and wedding
- Female activities
- The Symposium
- In the Athenian Agora
- Taking care of the deceased
The exhibition is supported by ample graphics which are meant both to increase the overall aesthetic effect and to enhance public understanding of the various artifacts and their function.
Each showcase has a frieze of drawings accompanied by explanatory texts which provide as much information as possible about the particular subject. In order to increase the educational character of the exhibition, two short movies, have been made, using advance shooting and sound-recording techniques. In the first movie, we see scenes from the life of a man, named Leon: his birth and childhood, his involvement in sporting activities, his military training, his participation in public affairs, the preparations for his marriage to Melite, and, finally, his departure for war. The second movie focuses on the death of the protagonist, as his relatives pay him the customary honours at his funeral. The tour concludes with a hypothetical painted reconstruction of an ancient 5th c. BC town (demos) on the coast of Attica, where the hero was born, lived and died, according to the scenario of the films.
Nicholas Chr. Stampolidis, Director MCA
Yorgos Tassoulas, Curator MCA
GPD Exhibitions & Museums
The MCA collections of Ancient of Greek Art have been integrated into a single permanent exhibition presented on the 2nd floor of the Main Building titled "Ancient Greek Art – A history in images". It includes approximately 350 objects from the N.P. Goulandris Collection, the Ch. Politis Collection and the Athens Academy Collection, as well as new acquisitions.
"Why did the Greeks need images?" That is a question frequently raised in view of the wealth of public and private imagery surviving from ancient Greece. The amount of such imagery is unparalleled in other cultures. In fact, the ancient Greek city is often called "a city of images". Based on the study of such images, the exhibition examines the history of Greek societies from their 2nd millennium BC origins, through the period of city-states, to their subjugation to imperial rule in the Roman period.
Emphasis is laid on the interaction between art and society, and on how social and political developments affected artistic styles and forms of representation. Artifacts are not examined only for their practical use but also for their symbolic value. Trying to decipher those hidden meanings offers deeper insights into the nature and history of ancient Greek societies.
The exhibition is organized in five major chronological periods from 2000 BC to AD 395. Each period consists of a historical introduction and several thematic subjects. Objects in the cases are presented in a way that is both friendly to the visitor and capable of revealing details of craftsmanship and decoration.
Interactive applications on touchscreens offer detailed information about two important topics of ancient Greek culture: Writing and Classical sculpture. The last section of the exhibition is dedicated to ancient technologies related to fire. Through a number of interactive applications, such as revolving panels and illuminated drawers, the visitors can learn how ancient craftsmen made clay, metal and glass objects.
Nicholas Papadimitriou, Curator MCA
Lila Lambrou (touchscreens, captions)
Drawings (object fabrication)
Videos (object fabrication)