The British Museum’s treasures of Ancient Greece are coming to the National Museum of Australia, the Western Australian Museum, and the Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland War Memorial Museum.
Featuring a range of 180 objects, the exhibition will be centred around the concept of competition and how it appeared in sports, politics, drama, music, and warfare. The exhibition, titled Ancient Greeks: Athletes, Warriors and Heroes, will open first in WA’s Boola Bardip Museum in June, before heading across to the National Museum of Australia (NMA) in Canberra from Dec. 17, then across the Tasman Sea to Auckland, New Zealand in 2022.
NMA Director Mathew Trinca thanked the British Museum, saying this unique collaboration allowed cultural institutions to pool and leverage their resources to bring world-class shows of this type to their audiences.
“We are thrilled that we can finally bring Ancient Greeks to east coast audiences after a 12-month delay,” Trinca said. “I know audiences will be mesmerised by the stories of competition in the Ancient Greek world and by the beautiful depictions of athletes, the ceramics, sculptures, armour, and jewellery featured in the show.”
Echoing the sentiments of Trinca, WA Museum CEO Alec Coles noted that his museum was delighted to be the first stop of the exhibitions tour.
The exhibition will include the British Museum’s iconic black and red-figured ceramics featuring finely drawn depictions of athletes, gods, and citizens; stunning marble and terracotta statues and reliefs; weapons and armour; toys and games; fine gold jewellery; and coins.
Ancient Greek society is regarded as having been one of the roots of western society, which influenced modern-day language, politics, educational systems, philosophy, science, and the arts around the world.
“The themes of Ancient Greek culture shared in this exhibition, including sport, arts, politics and philosophy, are legacies that continue to permeate our everyday life. I have no doubt Western Australian audiences, and visitors to our state, will marvel at the artistry and beauty of the objects and reflect on the profound influences of this period on our world today,” Coles said.
The exhibition was originally meant to tour the southern hemisphere in 2020 but was delayed amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It is the fourth collaboration for the British Museum and the Australian and New Zealand national museums, which have previously hosted Rome: City and Empire, A History of the World in 100 Objects and Encounters: Revealing Stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Objects from the British Museum.
The exhibition will be opening in the following locations.
- Western Australian Museum, Perth, June 20 to Nov. 7, 2021.
- National Museum of Australia, Canberra, Dec. 17 to May 1, 2022.
- Auckland War Memorial Museum, June 10 to Oct. 16, 2022.