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TNH at the Acropolis Museum Exhibition Featuring Works on Loan from British Museum

December 7, 2023

ATHENS – A press conference was held on December 5 for the Acropolis Museum’s new exhibition titled ‘Meanings’ (‘NoHMATA’): Personifications and Allegories from Antiquity to Today. The Museum’s General Director, Professor Nikolaos Chr. Stampolidis, speaking about the unique artworks on view in the exhibition, their personifications and allegories, but also the excellent relations with the British Museum, which has loaned the Meidias Hydria and seven other items for the exhibition. Prof. Stampolidis then guided the members of the media present, including The National Herald, on a tour of the exhibition space.

The exhibition opens to the general public on December 7 and consists of an artistic Tetralogy, bringing together works from four different periods, Antiquity, Byzantium, the Renaissance, and Modern Art, with a total of 164 works by artists from Rubens up to Tsarouchis, highlighting the exhibition’s themes.

“The one-word title ‘Meanings’ (‘NoHMATA’), with six of its seven letters (in Greek) capitalized and the second lowercase, refers to the meanings of its thematic plot as personifications, symbolisms and allegories are decisive constants that run through the exhibition as timeless threads,” noted Prof. Stampolidis.

The painting Saturn (Cronus) Devouring His Son, 1636-1638, by Peter Paul Rubens is among the works on display in the Acropolis Museum’s new exhibition ‘Meanings’: Personifications and Allegories from Antiquity to Today. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

The exhibition is divided into six sections: Time, Nature, Deities, Man and Human Nature, Institutions, ‘Allegories’ and an Epilogue, with more than half of the artworks being shown abroad on loan for the first time. “It took me 50 years,” joked Prof. Stampolidis when asked about the time it took to prepare the exhibition, underlining in this way his long-held vision, but also the magnitude of the effort that this entailed, to then add that in the last two years preparations had intensified.

During the tour, starting with Rubens’ Saturn-Cronus devouring his son, and ending, in the Epilogue, with the impressive bronze Chimera of 400 BC from the National Archaeological Museum of Florence, the professor speaking to the journalists focused on all those artistic details and their semantics in the individual artifacts. Love and luck, pain, virtue and vice, human passions but also the times and seasons, the elements of nature and the arts come to compose a complex and meaningful exhibition collection, with the design of the displays in the space knitted together so that “there are escape passages for the eye.”

Finally, Prof. Stampolidis thanked, among others, especially the Museums and Foundations in Greece and abroad, as well as private individuals, Irene and Nikolaos Laimos, Yiorgos Veltsos, Christos Bokoros, Donna Olimpia Torlonia, and Prince Prospero Colonna who lent works from their collections for the exhibition, as well as the Ministry of Culture for its support and assistance. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue available in Greek and in English.

Excellent relations with the British Museum

In the midst of the recent spat over the issue of the return of the Parthenon Sculptures and on the occasion of the return, as a loan, by the British Museum of eight items for the ‘Meanings’ exhibition, Prof. Stampolidis emphasized the excellent relations between the two institutions and that “we hope the Sculptures will be returned soon. The Parthenon is a symbol of harmony, architecture and democracy, as it was the first time that Phidias and the others sculpted all the representatives of democracy in the Parthenon temple’s nave.”

Based on the time of information he had, the general director of the Museum said that British Museum chairman of the board of trustees George Osborne and British Museum interim director Mark Jones are not expected to attend the opening of the Acropolis Museum exhibition. However, according to Prof. Stampolidis, representatives of the British Museum said a few days ago during the delivery of the eight loaned items to Athens that “we have never seen such spirit in an exhibition.”

‘Meanings’ (‘NoHMATA’): Personifications and Allegories from Antiquity to Today at the Acropolis Museum runs through April 14, 2024.

More information is available online: https://www.theacropolismuseum.gr/en.

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