CHICAGO – Over 600 friends of the National Hellenic Museum gathered at the organization’s annual gala – one of the Hellenic community’s most anticipated events – in support of its various cultural efforts and a celebration of a decade of residence in its new building at 333 S. Halsted Street in Chicago’s famous Greektown.
Held at the Hilton Chicago on Saturday, September 10th, guests were honored by the presence of HRH Princess Tatiana and Prince Nikolaos of Greece and Denmark, whose photographic exhibit ‘Resilience’ makes its debut at the museum this month.
“[The NHM] is an important bastion of Greek culture,” Prince Nikolaos said. “I feel extreme privilege and honor to have my exhibition here… It is so important to support our Greekness all over the world. In Chicago, the NHM represents that kind of support,” he said.
A collection of 19 pieces, ‘Resilience’ explores Greece’s strong relationship with nature, including the olive tree, grapevines, and the sea. The exhibit also features the North American premiere of ‘Together’, an immersive scene of illuminated life-size olive trees accompanied by sounds of Greek nature, which first premiered at the London Design Biennale in 2021.
“Greeks are resilient… during the pandemic all of us had to be resilient, but Greeks in Chicago, if there is ever an illustration of what resilience means, it is you,” said Prince Nikolaos, referring to the Greek-American immigrant story.
Prince Nikolaos’ exhibit marks the reopening of the National Hellenic Museum on the 16th of September. “Being forced to temporarily close our doors proved to be a challenge,” said NHM Chairman and Founder of Calamos Investments John P. Calamos, Sr., who said, “now that the pandemic is behind us, the closure is also behind us.”
Calamos also announced the museum is transitioning to digital exhibits as part of its strategic plan moving forward. “We want to transform the museum displays into dynamic exhibits that explore topics along with a more imaginative display using immersive technologies,” he said.
Event Chairman and CEO of Calamos Investments John S. Koudounis thanked key sponsors and presented the NHM’s new Executive Director Marianne Kountoures, who spoke about the museum’s recent activities, highlighting the mission of the NHM to share Greek history, art and culture in America.
“We need to look for new ways to highlight the contemporary relevance of this Hellenic legacy and to make connections with our audiences,” Kountoures said, adding, “we want to make the connection between the past and the present, between Greece and America, and between the Hellenic legacy and our current time.”
The museum recently partnered with the Department of Classics and Mediterranean Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago to host a marathon reading of Homer’s Odyssey, Kountoures noted as an example of recent efforts.
The sold out gala included a special performance by popular Greek singer Thanos Petrelis, who entertained the crowd throughout the night.
“It’s a very lovely, elegant event,” said Greek Women’s University Club Co-President Joanne Chamis, who attended the gala. “It’s great to see so many young people supporting the museum and our Hellenic heritage,” she said.
Founded as the Hellenic Museum and Cultural Center in 1983, the National Hellenic Museum highlights Greek-American contributions to the American mosaic and inspires curiosity about visitors’ own family stories through cultural expression and oral history.