Ancient Greece Meets Modern Melbourne With New Benaki Museum Exchange

10 December 2017

A new collaboration between the world-renowned Benaki Museum in Greece and Melbourne’s Hellenic Museum will see leading Australian artist Sam Jinks show a new major commission inspired by the Parthenon in Athens.

Touring the Benaki Museum, Premier Daniel Andrews announced the new partnership, which will also see the Hellenic Museum receive from the Benaki Museum an exhibition of works by legendary Greek photographer Elli Sougioultzoglou-Seraidari, known as Nelly’s.

Her photographs of ancient Greek temples set against sea and sky from the 30s and 40s established the iconic image of Greece in the Western mind. This will be first exhibition of her photographs in Australia.

In contrast, Sam Jinks’ new work will be based on the Parthenon sculptures currently on display at the British Museum. Jinks’ work will highlight the ongoing significance of mythology and figurative sculpture in contemporary art.

This is the second commission by the Hellenic Museum and follows the commissioning of Bill Henson in 2016 to take a series of photographs re-interpreting Greek treasures and artefacts on loan from the Benaki Museum.

That work, ONEIROI, will also tour to the Benaki Museum in 2019 as part of the ongoing exchange relationship between the two museums

As part of the new agreement, the Hellenic Museum will co-curate the exhibitions, and Mr Henson will attend the opening of the exhibition in Athens.

These new partnerships will support the professional development of both Australian and Greek curators and conservators, and further strengthen the cultural ties between the Hellenic Museum and the Benaki Museum.

Visiting the Acropolis, Mr Andrews renewed calls for Britain to return the Parthenon Marbles to their rightful home in Greece.

With Melbourne home to the largest Greek population outside of Greece, the Andrews Labor Government has reaffirmed its strong support for the return of the marbles to the Greek Government and its people.

Quotes attributable to Premier Daniel Andrews

“The Parthenon Marbles are such an important part of Greek identity and history and have had an enormous impact on Western civilisation – it is a terrible cultural injustice that they are still so far from home.”

“The Marbles must be returned to their rightful owners – the Greek nation and its people. I support this, our Government supports this, and our thriving Greek community in Melbourne support this.”

“This unique partnership between our own Hellenic Museum and the internationally renowned Benaki Museum will combine the ancient with the contemporary through the exchange of collections, ideas and expertise.”

Reviewed 19 August 2020

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