The National Hellenic Museum reopens with three new exhibitions
The National Hellenic Museum is reopening its doors this month, with three new exciting exhibitions: Resilience, a photographic exhibition by HRH Prince Nikolaos of Greece and Denmark, Gather Together: Chicago Street Photography by Diane Alexander White, and Storytelling in Cloth and Light, an exhibition that combines textiles from the museum’s collection with photographs by Diane Alexander White.
As the museum reopens its physical space, we have an opportunity to reflect on the Hellenic legacy that we are so committed to preserving. Because the Hellenic legacy is the gift of the Greek people to the world; Hellenism is history’s first instance of a global culture. And the values that took shape in ancient Greece, that were passed on into the Byzantine Empire, kept alive in proud defiance during the dark days and that live on in each of us today, have changed the world, and continue to have value in this world that is changing more quickly than ever before.
The Hellenic legacy is a constellation of values, and attitude and approach to life summarized in three principles: bravery, a love of freedom, and abiding commitment to the art of storytelling, to sharing our stories and hearing the stories of others. While you don’t have to be Greek to live this way, this way of living is the Greeks contribution to our human family.
First, bravery. It is the Greeks who first stood against the Nazi menace on Oxi Day and the Greeks who guarded the pass at Thermopylae. It is also the Greeks who, nearly three thousand years ago, became the first people in human history, to reject mere tradition as absolute authority, bravely questioning received wisdom and in doing so inaugurating the sciences and philosophy.
But why do this? Why take these risks both physical and intellectual? Because Greeks love freedom. The great German Classicist Alexander von Humboldt wrote, “It was in Athens where for the first time, man dreamed that he might be free.” The Greek love of freedom is real and ancient. To be Greek is to desire to be free: free to strive, to think, to wonder, to question, and to debate.
Greeks love a good debate. (Anyone who spends any time around a Greek dinner table knows that if you want an argument, you will probably find one. This love of a good argument is part of a much bigger part of who we are. We want people to know what we believe. We want people to know who we are and where we are coming from. We are storytellers. There is something special about the Greek love of stories, of sharing perspectives and ways of being in this world, that is special. Hellenism became universal, because part of that magic formulation was a need to share what we found with the world.
The National Hellenic Museum was born from that passion. That passion to tell our story, to share our culture. Just like the Greek American community that created the National Hellenic Museum lives and breathes because of the bravery and love of freedom that brought our moms and dads, our pappous and yiayias to America. The Hellenic legacy is alive.
And you can experience a little of that legacy at the National Hellenic Museum. We are open Friday-Sunday 10 AM- 4PM. You can also visit us online at nationalhellenicmuseum.org. Come see what is so special about Hellenism.