Exhibition on beauty through the ages at National Archaeological Museum’s 150th anniversary ‘trilogy’
The shifting perceptions of beauty through the ages are the theme of an exhibition that will inaugurated at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens at 19:00 on Friday, by President of the Republic Prokopios Pavlopoulos.
The temporary exhibit is the last of an exhibition “trilogy” held at the NAM over three years to mark the 150th anniversary since the foundations of the museum were laid (1866-2016). It was preceded by “Odysseys” in 2016-2017 and “A dream among splendid ruins?Strolling through the Athens of travelers in the 17th-19th century” in 2015.
Culture Minister Lydia Koniordou will also be at the opening of the exhibition “Countless faces of Beauty,” which displays 340 ancient works of art from the museum’s collections that date from the neolithic era to late antiquity.
According to museum curator Maria Lagogianni, the exhibition is divided into four parts that gradually reveal beauty as a “constantly evolving reality: as artistic expression, erotic inspiration, position and counter-position and as an intellectual struggle, individual and collective, toward freedom and self-knowledge.”
The introduction is entitled “Eternal Aesthetics” and features selected everyday objects that reveal changing ideas of what is beautiful through the ages, in objects that also double as works of art. The second part is called “The beautiful and desirable” and attempts to explore the preferences of ancient societies and what they perceived as beautiful, based on descriptions in ancient Greek myths and on archaeological finds linked to clothing, hair styles, jewellery and ancient cosmetics.
This section contains ancient art depicting the Judgement of Paris and, as a special surprise, three aromatic oils developed by the contemporary Greek cosmetics firms Korres based on instructions found on a Linear B tablet from Pylos, dating to the 13th century BC, that will offer visitors an original and unique sensory experience. According to Lena Korre, whose company developed the three perfumed oils, the one named “Aphrodite’s Rose” is the first ancient perfume made in Greece that is based on ancient sources. Apart from rose petals, it contains wild olive oil, a plant called kypeiros found on the island of Amorgos and the root of the plant dyer’s alkanet.
The third section of the exhibition follows the evolution of beauty in art, from the neolithic to late antiquity, in sculpture and other objects that also display the philosophical and aesthetic theories prevailing in those times. The fourth and final section, “Endless Searching” examines the meaning of beauty and its value for humanity.
Digital projections and the music of Vangelis (Nina, Pinta, Santa Maria 1492 – Conquest of Paradise theme) will further showcase the exhibits, as well as a number of workshops that will be held throughout the exhibition’s duration, during which scientists, artists and craftsmen will give an in-depth view of the various activities that people have engaged in through the ages in their search for beauty: neolithic weaving, Aegean clothing in the second millenium before Christ, Mycenean clothes, colours on ancient sculpture and styles of ancient Greek music.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue in Greek, while a catalogue in English will be published in about a month. It was funded by the culture ministry, and supported with donations from the National Bank of Greece, Hellenic Petroleum and the Latsis Foundation.