‘Greeks’ Exhibition to Open June 1 at National Geographic Museum in Washington, D.C.

More Than 500 Greek Artifacts Make Final Stop on 4-city Tour

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Female Figurine © National Archaeological Museum, Athens. Part of the National Geographic’s The Greeks—Agamemnon to Alexander the Great at the National Geographic Museum in Washington D.C.

The Greeks—Agamemnon to Alexander the Great” spans 5,000 years of Greek history and culture, presenting stories of individuals from Neolithic villages through the conquests of Alexander the Great. This unprecedented exhibition features more than 550 artifacts from the national collections of 22 museums throughout Greece, making it the largest exhibition of its kind to tour North America in 25 years. The Greeks makes its final of two U.S. stops, and its only East Coast appearance, at the National Geographic Museum, where it opens to the public on June 1.

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Relief of the “Youth Crowning Himself”- This relief shows a young athlete placing an olive wreath on his head. This image has become a symbol of Athenian democracy, which arose around the 5th century BC. Going forward, people would no longer be subject to the will of the gods, but instead would be masters of their own fate. © National Archaeological Museum, Athens. Part of the National Geographic’s The Greeks—Agamemnon to Alexander the Great at the National Geographic Museum in Washington D.C.

The Greeks was developed by the Hellenic Ministry of Culture, Education and Religious Affairs (Athens, Greece), The Field Museum (Chicago, USA), the National Geographic Museum (Washington, D.C., USA), Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Archaeology and History Complex (Montréal, Canada), and the Canadian Museum of History (Gatineau, Canada).

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Statue of a Soldier, Known as “Leonidas” This statue is thought to depict the Spartan king Leonidas, whose troops battled the Persians in 480 BC. Grossly outnumbered, the Spartans fought valiantly. Though eventually defeated, the battle gave hope to the Greeks that the massive force of Xerxes could be beaten back. © Archaeological Museum of Sparta. Part of the National Geographic’s The Greeks—Agamemnon to Alexander the Great at the National Geographic Museum in Washington D.C.

The Greeks is the largest and most comprehensive exhibition of Greek history and culture to visit North America in a generation,” said Kathryn Keane, vice president of Exhibitions at the National Geographic Society. “From their Bronze Age beginnings to the height of classical civilization, the Greeks and the traditions they founded continue to have a profound impact on our lives today.”

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Fragment of a Grave Stele © National Archaeological Museum, Athens. Part of the National Geographic’s The Greeks—Agamemnon to Alexander the Great at the National Geographic Museum in Washington D.C.

The exhibition contains more than 500 magnificent artifacts, many of which have never been displayed outside of Greece. Curator favorites include iconic stone figurines from the Cycladic Islands; gold funerary masks and other treasures from Mycenae; classical marble statues from the Acropolis Museum of Greek poets, athletes and heroes; and brightly painted ceramic vases featuring scenes from Greek mythology and daily life.

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“Mask of Agamemnon” (Replica) When unearthed in the late-19th century, archaeologists believed this to be the death mask of Agamemnon, the mythical king of Mycenae. © National Archaeological Museum, Athens. Part of the National Geographic’s The Greeks—Agamemnon to Alexander the Great at the National Geographic Museum in Washington D.C.

Museum visitors will experience the exhibition through the eyes of the ancient Greeks. Some are well-known even today — Oysseus, Homer, Agamemnon, Leonidas, Socrates, Pericles, Philip II and Alexander — with their achievements recorded in epic poems, historical writings and mythological stories. But many of the people featured in the exhibition remain unnamed and known to us only through the archaeological record: a priestess of Mycenae, a warrior of the Iron Age, two noble women of the Archaic period and an athlete of the classical era. The objects buried with these individuals provide insights into their lives and the roles they played within their respective families and societies.

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Votive Relief Offered to Asklepios In the center of this relief, Asklepios, god of medicine, leans on his staff, around which a snake is coiled. This symbol still represents medicine today. © National Archaeological Museum, Athens. Part of the National Geographic’s The Greeks—Agamemnon to Alexander the Great at the National Geographic Museum in Washington D.C.

Woven throughout the exhibition are the inventions, innovations and institutions that provide the foundation for much of Western culture. Scholars today trace the origins of modern democracy; the Olympic movement; and Western philosophy, poetry and theater back to Greece. Even many of the monuments of Washington, D.C., owe their architectural style to the mathematicians, builders and sculptors of ancient Greece.

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Alexander the Great Bust Sculpted shortly after Alexander’s death, this marble bust depicts him in the flower of youth. © Archaeological Museum of Pella. Part of the National Geographic’s The Greeks—Agamemnon to Alexander the Great at the National Geographic Museum in Washington D.C.

In addition to this exhibition, National Geographic is producing a three-hour series “The Greeks,” which will air nationally on PBS in late June. A rich complement of publications and public programming related to the exhibition will also be announced in early May. Special events will include an engaging Nat Geo Live event featuring Caroline Alexander, author of the recently published and critically acclaimed English translation of The Iliad.”

More information about The Greeks at the National Geographic Museum can be found here: http://events.nationalgeographic.com/exhibits/2016/06/01/the-greeks-dc/.

The National Geographic Museum (1145 17th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C.) is open every day (except Dec. 25) from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is $15 for adults; $12 for National Geographic members, military, students, seniors and groups of 25 or more; $10 for children ages 5-12; and free for local school, student and youth groups (18 and under; advance reservation required). Tickets may be purchased online at www.natgeomuseum.org; via telephone at (202) 857-7700; or in person at the National Geographic Museum, 1145 17th Street, N.W., between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. For more information on group sales, call (202) 857-7281.

The National Geographic Society is a global nonprofit membership organization driven by a passionate belief in the power of science, exploration, education and storytelling to change the world. We fund hundreds of research and conservation projects around the globe each year. With the support of our members and donors, we work to inspire, illuminate and teach through scientific expeditions, award-winning journalism, education initiatives and more. For more information, visit www.nationalgeographic.org.

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