10th Anniversary Celebrations

08 May 2017

This past weekend the Hellenic Museum celebrated its 10th Anniversary.

To celebrate this milestone, the Museum hosted two events at Melbourne’s iconic Plaza Ballroom. The Gala Dinner on the Saturday night and Concert on Sunday afternoon was attended by close to one and a half thousand people.

Internationally renowned Greek superstar, Yannis Kotsiras, gave two standout performances exclusively for the Museum events.  Proud to support such an important occasion, Kotsiras said that he would continue to be a cultural ambassador for the Hellenic Museum, due to the valuable role the Museum plays in promoting Hellenism in the Diaspora.

Guest of honour was Dr George Manginis, newly appointed member of the Benaki Museum’s executive team.  During the event, Dr Manginis described the relationship between the two Museums as unique and exciting and that he looked forward to the development of exciting new projects in the future.

The event celebrated the Hellenic Museum’s growth from strength to strength over the past ten years and the integral role the Museum plays in Australia’s rich multicultural tapestry. Over the course of the events, Museum CEO John Tatoulis conveyed that such a role is one to be celebrated and used as a catalyst for greater understanding of heritage, history and opportunity.

The weekend celebrations encapsulated the Hellenic Museum’s vision of engaging with local and international visitors, and looks forward to many more exciting programs and events in the future.

Guest of Honour, Dr George Manginis

Yannis Kotsiras performed exclusively for the Hellenic Museum’s Anniversary celebrations


A modern exploration of ancient rituals

14 March 2017

Photographic exhibition ‘Faces + Masks’ launched at The Hellenic Museum last week

On the evening of 9 March, an intimate crowd gathered to celebrate the launch of ‘Faces + Masks’.

The space at the Hellenic Museum had been transformed to accommodate this vibrant and evocative collection.  Presented in partnership with the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival and Flux Laboratory, the Hellenic Museum hosted the evening with artist Nikos Vavdinoudis as special guest.

Vavdinoudis gave attendees a unique insight into his work and the intriguing history of the cultural traditions captured in his photographic series. The photographs feature modern costumed practices and obscure, fascinating rituals of eight rural villages in Northern Greece that have their origins in ancient Dionysian celebrations. 

Striking and atmospheric, the exhibition beautifully captures the love affair of ancient and modern festivities.  Running until mid-May, this is a collection not to be missed.

Hellenic Museum’s curator Sarah Craig, CEO John Tatoulis and exhibition artist Nikos Vavdinoudis

Selling Fast

26 February 2017

With only one film left, you want to get in quick to secure your spot at the 2017 Summer Cinema

Next Saturday Irene Papas returns to the Hellenic Museum courtyard bookending the 2017 Summer Cinema in another classic Greek tragedy, Iphigenia. Heart-wrenching and powerful, this Euripidean tragedy tells a tale of pride, courage and betrayal. King Agamemnon must decide is he is to deceive his wife Clytemnestra (Papas) in order to sacrifice their daughter Iphigenia. This sacrifice is an attempt to appease the gods so he may gain safe and swit passge for his ships to Troy. This cinematic incarnation of Iphigeni demonstrates why this story has survived to be told over two thousand years after its first performance.

The leafy courtyard of the former Royal Mint building will be filled with aromas of a Greek style BBQ from Psistaria. Mouth watering lamb and ancient grain salads will be served each night as well as an array of Hellenic beverages.

Gates open with Psistaria and bar: 6pm

Screening begins: just after dusk, around 8.30pm

Iphigenia is subtitled and rated M.

For tickets and more information visit here.

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra MPavilion Recital

12 December 2016

"Emotions of any kind can be evoked by melody and rhythm, therefore music has the power to form character." Aristotle (384-322 BC). Teaming up, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO) performed at the Hellenic Museum as part of the Melbourne MPavilion’s ‘Architecture in the City’ event.

Hosted in the stunning 2014 MPavilion, designed by Australian architect Sean Godsell, in the beautiful grounds of the Hellenic Museum, the MSO transported an audience to another time.

In celebration of the MSOs 110th anniversary and forming part of MPavilion’s architecturally themed events, this formed one of a series of free musical performances around the city, including at the current and 2015 MPavilions in Queen Victoria Gardens and Docklands.  MPavilion, the MSO and the Hellenic Museum created an ideal way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon. Audiences navigated between three significant structures, taken to another world through the music of Vivaldi, Strauss, Beethoven and more.

The one-off Museum recital featured the MSO string and oboe quartet. Kathryn Taylor and Rachel Homburg were both on violin, Miranda Brockman on cello and Michael Pisani on oboe. The quartet presented a selection of works from the Classical period, starting with Telemann’s Trio Sonata in E Minor (four movements) and Mozart’s Adagio for Cor Anglais, before moving through to the Romantics, Borodin’s String Trio in G major (first movement) (Allegro), and Beethoven’s Trio for Oboe, Violin and Cello. The audience spilled out of the MPavilion into the garden to hear. It was an evocative and soothing afternoon, relaxing to their music in the garden surrounds.

A free audio tour by Emma Telfer, director of Open House Melbourne was (and still is) available for download. ‘Past, Past and Present’: An Audio Tour Between all 3 MPavilions covers the 2014, 2015 and 2016 iterations of the MPavilion, while also encompassing Melbourne’s architectural heritage and providing insight into the buildings, sculpture and locales in terms of each MPavilion.

Special guest speaker, Dr. Andrew Jamieson, senior lecturer and curator of classics and archaeology at the University of Melbourne followed the Hellenic Museum recital. Dr. Jamieson presented an engaging, spirited talk on classical Greek architectural influences throughout Melbourne, highlighting how resonant the past is in our present.

This was an engaging day of cultural, architectural and musical highlights that fed the mind and the soul. If you missed out this year, don’t worry, the Hellenic Museum has open doors until 23rd December (re-opening 3rd January).

Melbourne Festival of Homer

23 November 2016

Melbourne’s first ever Festival of Homer took place over the weekend proving that 3000 years on, Homer’s works still draw a crowd. Except for the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Pentateuch, The Iliad and The Odyssey constitute the oldest surviving literature of antiquity organised into an epic or saga form. Homer himself is one of the most disputed personalities in history, there has been much debate about who he was and whether he was one man or an amalgam of several ancient bards, poets and composers.

The festival, organised by Humanities 21, brought together performers, musicians, writers and scholars to celebrate and interpret Homer to a wide audience. Events happened all over the city, several of which took place at the Hellenic Museum; including the opening cocktail party, which also marked the launch of the Museum’s new exhibition Siren Song.

Saturday’s sell out event saw David Malouf and Professor Chris Mackie discussing The Iliad and Malouf’s bestselling novel Ransom which focuses on the human motivations and experiences within the Iliad.

The weekend was capped off on Sunday with a reading of Angus Cameron’s In the Mirror, Darkly a contemporary look at heroes and villains with the Elektra narrative at its core. This was followed by the Festival’s closing ceremony which featured dramatized readings from The Odyssey and The Iliad as well as Ithacan Australian Panagiotis Anagnostatos and psychotherapist Dr Peter O’Connor journey with Odysseus through Homer’s mythical and geographical landscape. 

Second Annual Multicultural Museums Cook Off

25 October 2016

Following the success of last year’s inaugural event, the Hellenic Museum, Islamic Museum of Australia, Jewish Museum of Australia and Museo Italiano (Co.As.It) came together again for the 2016 Multicultural Museums Cook Off on Sunday. The Carlton Italian Festa played host to this year’s Cook Off, which was broadcast live on 774 ABC Melbourne and across ABC Victoria.

Phil Vakos of Bahari Restaurant, who shot to fame a few years ago through his time on MasterChef Australia, returned to defend his title as the Multicultural Cook Off’s 2015 winner for the Hellenic Museum. “Melbourne’s food scene is a melting pot of different cultures and that’s why it’s so unique!” Vakos said and so it proved with each contestant serving up a delicious main vegetarian dish from their culture in under an hour. Each dish was put to the test by four judges, with esteemed TV journalist George Donikian representing the Hellenic Museum.

The cook off celebrates the vibrancy and diversity of Melbourne, along with our collective passion for food. This year the chefs were challenged to show off their culinary skills by cooking a meal inspired by their cultural backgrounds. Points were given for the strength of the historical or family narrative and a complete disregard for calories.

The highly coveted trophy was taken out by Giulia Biviano from the Museo Italiano, for her winning dish, Spaghetti with Tomato and Eggplant.

The Hellenic Museum would like to thank all the Museums involved, and Philip Vakos for once again representing the Museum and Greek culture and cuisine. Each of the chef’s recipes can be found at http://multiculturalmuseumscookoff.com.au/recipes/


Major international first prize for Hellenic Museum's MPavilion

15 September 2016

Sean Godsell Architects, the architects behind the design of the inaugural MPavilion – now housed in the leafy courtyard of the Hellenic Museum – have won the presitigious first place in the 2016 Detail Prize. 

The Detail Prize aims to highlight opportunities, challenges and potentials for the construction industry, in particular architecture. The award seeks to strengthen architecture in public debate, strengthen the role of architects in public, and strengthen networking among architects, industrialists, developers and politicians. 

The prize is awarded to future-oriented, innovative and pioneering projects from different disciplines that have outstanding architectural and technical qualities. This year’s competition received 337 submissions from 42 countries. Germany-based Detail Magazine awards the Detail Prize every two years in cooperation with architecture trade fair BAU.

Above: From live music, food and cultural events, the MPavilion has blossomed in the Hellenic Museum’s courtyard. 

Since its installation last year, the MPavilion has exponentially enhanced the Museum’s programming by becoming the Museum’s artistic venue for live theatre, music and cultural events. 

In September 2015, the City of Melbourne – in partnership with the Naomi Milgrom Foundation – gifted the MPavilion to the Museum adding an architectural element to the cultural insitution. The MPavilion creates a lovely juxtaposition between the contemprary design of the structure and the heritage listed status of the former Royal Mint building that houses the Museum. 

The Sean Godsell designed MPavilion also won the Australian Institute of Architects’ 2015 Victorian Architecture Award in the Small Project Architecture category; the silver award in the 2014 Melbourne Design Awards; and was shortlisted for a 2015 World Architecture News (WAN) Award in the new Temporary Spaces category.

Illustrated book on migration wins award

31 August 2016

A new illustrated book by artists George Matoulas and Angela Cavalieri – that will be launched by the Hellenic Museum in partnership with Museo Italiano – was awarded first prize in The Libris Awards, a major national artist book award. 

The illustrated book, written by Australian playwright and novelist Antoni Jach, looks at the migration of the artists’ families from Europe to Australia and the culture they brought with them. Themes include the voyage to Australia, and who they are through religion, entertainment and food. 

The book launch, to be held at Museo Italiano, will be held in partnership with the two museums as part of the Multicultural Museums of Victoria (MMV) initiative. The MMV exists to facilitate collaborations between its partners aiming to celebrate and promote appreciation of Victoria’s cultural diversity.

Europa to Oceania will be launched at Museo Italiano, Co.As.It, 189 Faraday Street, Carlton, on Thursday 22 September, 6:30pm. There will be an accompanying exhibition that will run until 28 October, 2016. This is a free event but RSVP is recommended via the Museo Italiano’s facebook page. 


Benaki Museum director to visit Australia for first time

10 August 2016

Benaki Museum looks to young French-born Olivier Descotes to reinvigorate the iconic Greek cultural institution

As Greece faces political unrest and continuing austerity, the young French born philhellene Olivier Descotes has been chosen to direct and oversee one of Greece’s most prestigious, and one of Europe’s most significant, cultural institutions – the Benaki Museum.

Above: Olivier Descotes, Director, Benaki Museum. Photo by: Nikos Vourliotis.

Unanimously chosen from more than 80 Greek and international candidates by the Museum’s board earlier this year, the Benaki Museum set the task to a foreigner to reinvigorate and globalise the Museum, following the departure of esteemed Director of 40 years Professor Angelos Delivorrias.

“In a period of extensive and difficult changes for Greece, our aim is to highlight the unique cultural richness of the Museum and to strengthen its development policy so that the Benaki Museum can take an even more active role in international cultural and museological affairs,” -  Olivier Descotes, Director, Benaki Museum.

Visiting Australia for the first time, Descotes will officially open the latest collection from the Benaki Museum, The Art of Adornment: Greek Jewellery from the 17th to 19th Centuries - on loan to Australia’s Hellenic Museum for the next five months. The exhibition opens to the public on Friday 26 August and will run until Sunday 29 January, 2017.

Olivier Descotes holds a diploma from Sorbonne University and the Institut d’études Politiques de Paris, he is a Knox Scholar of Trinity College (University of Cambridge), and is a high-ranking officer of the French Ministry of Culture and Communications. After having served as advisor to the French Minister for Culture and Communications and the Chairman & CEO of Vivendi Universal, he was appointed Cultural Attaché at the French Embassy in Italy and Secretary General of the Nuovi Mecenati Foundation (2005-2009), Director of the Institut Français in Milan (2009- 2011) and then in Athens, holding at the same time the post of Counsellor for Cooperation and Culture at the French Embassy in Greece (2011- 2015). He is a Knight of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and Knight of the Ordre des Palmes Académiques. 

On his selection, Aimilia Yeroulanou, President of the Board of Trustees – Benaki Museum said the board is “confident that Mr Olivier Descotes will succeed outgoing director Professor Angelos Delivorrias in the best of ways, despite the adverse circumstances, our country is facing”.

“His cultural and international vision will prove very favourable for the institution and will ensure its strengthening and extroversion,” said Ms Yeroulanou.

The Art of Adornment: Greek Jewellery from the 17th to 19th Centuries will be launched with Melbourne Spring Fashion Week. It will be exhibited in the upstairs gallery across from the permanent installation ONEIROI – a photographic exhibition by Bill Henson, incorporating Greek treasures through the ages.

Hellenic Museum world best

19 July 2016

Australia’s Hellenic Museum is one of twenty Museums in the world chosen to take part in The Best in Heritage conference – an international symposium that recognizes award winning museum, heritage and conservation projects.  The Museum’s CEO John Tatoulis has been invited to travel to Dubrovnik, Croatia in September, as a distinguished laureate, to discuss and present the Museum’s cultural partnership with the Benaki Museum, Athens, specifically the development and success of the exhibition Gods, Myths & Mortals.

“Being selected to present to such a prestigious group of Museum experts and leaders in their field is testament to all the hard work of the Hellenic Museum,” says Mr Tatoulis.

Above: Hellenic Museum CEO John Tatoulis in the ONEIROI gallery space. 

The Gods, Myths & Mortals project was initiated by Mr Tatoulis and supported by the Hellenic Museum board, State Government and the Benaki Museum. Its main objective was to provide an overview of Greek art and culture through the ages, as well as help the Museum grow by acting as a catalyst to create new works with established and emerging artists; develop new initiatives and partnerships; and produce dynamic and diverse cultural events.

“The loan of a collection of this calibre is, in its self, a significant coup for Australia,” said Mr Tatoulis who adds that just next month a second collection from the Benaki Museum The Art of Adornment will be on display from 26 August. This collection features over 90 pieces of intricate and exquisite jewellery from the 17th to 19th centuries.

Since Gods, Myths & Mortals launched in September 2014, it has seen visitors from all over Australia as well international guests visit the Hellenic Museum. The collection, that spans 8000 years of Greek civilization, went on to win the Best Exhibition by Museums Australia Victoria in 2015. Commended for punching above their weight, and praised for both the quality and duration of the exhibition from Greece's Benaki Museum, the team at the Museum worked diligently with the Benaki to transform the space of the former Royal Mint, and to ambitiously bring the items to life in their Australian home for the next ten years.

Installing and curating an exhibition of this significance in a heritage-listed space came with its own series of challenges. One of the considerations of the Museums Award was the innovative way the exhibition was installed within the strict parameters maintained by the heritage department, while managing to create an exhibition layout which complemented both the building, the exhibition content and adhered to museum best practice. The resultant design is specific and sympathetic to both the magnificent building and to the exhibition. Freestanding cabinetry was purpose built and installed in such a way as to create an intimate, chronological journey of discovery. Unique spaces within the building were also incorporated within the design helping to create a seamless experiential journey. Two examples include the subtle transformation of the former Royal Mint’s gold vault into a byzantine treasury and the former gold surveyor’s room into a 20-seat theatrette. 

The project Gods, Myths & Mortals has acted as a platform from which other exhibitions, events and artworks could evolve. The ONEIROI installation is a great example of this and shows how ancient and modern Greece can be showcased in a single collection.  Internationally acclaimed artist Bill Henson was commissioned to create a new series of photographs as a permanent installation at the Hellenic Museum.


“Just like the Greek treasures selected by Bill Henson, the resultant photographs that form the collection ONEIROI are unique, without editions, reflecting the nature of the Benaki artefacts they incorporate, thus respecting and honouring their originality and timelessness,” says Mr Tatoulis.

Now in its fifteenth year, the Best in Heritage international conference is a way to celebrate professional excellence and inform the international museum and gallery communities of success stories.

Past museums to have their projects featured in the Best in Heritage include: The British Museum; New Acropolis Museum; Smithsonian Institution and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

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