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Arts

From Athens to Toronto: A Greek Masterpiece Revealed

TORONTO – On March 12, Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) visitors will have the rare opportunity to experience Kore 670 — a gift to a goddess, one of the best-preserved and most stunningly beautiful Korai statues from the legendary citadel of the Acropolis of Athens. This is a unique opportunity to see one of the world’s great ancient sculptures in the heart of downtown Toronto and at ROM only until September 25.

Celebrating 80 years of Canada-Greece relations, this exceptional marble sculpture is on loan to ROM as part of an exchange of iconic objects with the Acropolis Museum in Athens, Greece, with ROM sending two treasured vases from the Museum’s Greek collections for display at the Acropolis Museum from June 20-January 8, 2023.

This magnificent work of art has left Greece only a very few times in its 2,500-year history. With Kore 670’s exclusive presentation in Toronto, visitors can enjoy and appreciate this unique icon of Hellenic art for the short time it is here.

This Kore, or figure of a maiden, created between 520-510 BCE, is considered one of the most important and beautiful of the sculptures from the Acropolis appreciated for its fine detail and preservation. In many places, the statue retains remnants of its once colorfully painted figure, which have largely been worn away by time and the elements. This sculpture offers visitors a portal into the history and beauty of ancient Greek art, the tumultuous history of the Acropolis and the birthplace of democracy, and an incredible story of discovery.

Kore 670 (Kore is Greek for girl) was a gift to the goddess Athena, daughter of Zeus. The many Korai (plural of Kore), that in ancient times adorned the Acropolis of Athens, represent some of the most iconic images in Greek culture and civilization. In the centuries that passed since the destruction of Athens and the Acropolis in 480 BCE, Kore 670 and 13 other Korai were re-discovered in 1886 when archaeologists were excavating the site.

This installation also invites audiences to re-examine our understanding of white marble sculptures and the appeal of color in the Archaic Age. Unpainted marble has been accepted for centuries as the original and intended appearance of statues. In fact, these sculptures were initially overlaid and adorned with vibrant colors and a Greek sculpture was never thought to be complete until it was painted. The bright hues of Kore 670 have decomposed over time, but the remaining traces on this sculpture highlights how colorful art was in antiquity.

This ROM installation is sponsored by the Hellenic Heritage Foundation of Canada (HHF) in recognition of the anniversary of Canada-Greece relations. A podcast produced by HHF will feature a conversation about Kore 670 and its significance to Greek culture. The podcast will be available for listening on the HHF website, the ROM exhibition webpage or via your favorite podcast provider.

ROM Learning is offering resources and activities in support of this presentation. To highlight how color was an integral part of ancient Greek sculpture, there will be an eight-page Colors of Kore Discovery Book, as well as a Gallery Trail for classrooms and a Virtual Tour of the Kore 670 installation and other ROM galleries made available for audiences.

ROM holds Canada’s foremost and comprehensive museum collection of ancient Greek objects consisting of some 7,000 objects, representing one of the largest collections of Greek art in North America, with objects on display in the Gallery of Greece and the Gallery of the Bronze Age Aegean on level 3 of the Museum.

Kore 670 is on loan from the Acropolis Museum, issued by the excavations at the Acropolis of Athens conducted by the responsible service of the Greek State in 1886.

Visitors are encouraged to purchase timed tickets in advance. More information is available online: https://bit.ly/3po0TF2.

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