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Hadrian and Athens. Conversing with an Ideal World

(Monday 27th of November 2017 with a year-long duration)

 
Marble portrait bust of the emperor Hadrian (AD 117-138). Found in Athens in 1933, dated AD 130-140.
The National Archaeological Museum in collaboration with the Italian Archaeological School at Athens organize the temporary exhibition Hadrian and Athens. Conversing with an Ideal World in the Gallery 31a of the Sculpture Collection. The exhibition celebrates the 1900 years since the beginning of Adrians Principate in AD 117, an anniversary that was celebrated in manifold ways by major European museums and cultural institutions.

The exhibition aims to give visitors a unique opportunity to view exhibits which showcase Hadrians philhellenism and highlight his immense and enduring legacy. By promoting the integration of Greek intelligentsia with Roman tradition, Hadrian contributed decisively to forging a common cultural base that served as a fundamental element of western culture. From this viewpoint, the exhibition marks and heralds the launch of the European Year of Cultural Heritage in 2018. All of the exhibits featured, 40 in all, come from the National Archaeological Museums collections.

The Athenian Kosmetai gallery in the permanent exhibition of the Sculpture Collection was selected as the ideal setting for the development of the museological concept. Portraits of the Emperor Hadrian are on display centrally in an imaginary philosophical dialogue about Greek culture with emblematic figures of intellectuals such as Metrodorus, Antonius Polemon and Herodes Atticus. Portraits of Plato and Aristoteles, standing as symbols of Greek philosophical thought, observe the imagined conservation, along with the Kosmetai at the back of the hall, i.e. the officials who were responsible for the intellectual and physical education of the ephebes in the Athenian gymnasia of the imperial period. Through this enriched exhibition narrative, the guardians of the traditional education (paideia) of ancient Athens are approached with new interpretative media that highlight the deep spiritual affinity between Hellenic and Roman culture. The world of the Athenian Gymnasia is also enlivened by a series of representative exhibits and the splendid bust of Antinous, the emperors beloved companion, who was deified after his premature death and venerated in the Gymnasia as a model of youthful beauty and vigour.

The exhibition tour comes to a close with a visit to two more exhibition halls that show complementary aspects of Hadrians presence in Athens and create a parallel thematic tour to the rest of the museum. In the framework of the Invisible Museum, a highly successful exhibit-event that presents antiquities from the storerooms for a short period, two unique exhibits are on public view for the first time from the 13th of November 2017 until the 4th of March 2018. An inscription bearing the emperors name accompanied by the title Olympios, is dated about AD 132 and constitutes a testimony to the recognition of Hadrians beneficence by the Athenian citizens. Next to it stands a second bust of heroized Antinous, found in Patras. The thematic tour ends at the Egyptian Galleries of the National Archaeological Museum, where a statue of Egyptianizing Antinous from the Sanctuary of the Egyptian Gods in Marathon welcomes visitors and narrates in its own way the spiritual quests of the era.

The exhibition is under the auspices of His Excellency the President of the Republic Mr. Prokopios Pavlopoulos.
 
Other Photographs of the exhibition
The portrait bust of Hadrian in an imaginary conversation.
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Portrait bust of Antinous, found in Patras (AD 130-138). Next to it a stele with a list of the officials of the Gymnasium and the ephebes, by tribe.
View of the exhibition.
View of the exhibition.