Scholars' Association News
Issue 39
July 2016

01/07


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Parallel events at the major 'Ancient Dion' exhibition in New York

The ‘Gods and Mortals at Olympus: Ancient Dion, City of Zeus’ exhibition, the first to be held at the recently renovated Onassis Cultural Centre premises in New York, ended on 18 June 2016 having garnered enthusiastic reviews in the American Press.

This unique exhibition that opened its doors on 24 March told the story of the mythical mountain of the gods in relation to day-to-day life in the sacred city of Dion through a series of 90 plus exhibits, mosaics, sculptures, pieces of jewellery, ceramics, coins, glass items and tools found at Ancient Dion and dating from the 10th century BC to the 4th century AD.

The New York Times said, "It’s easy to spot first-time visitors to the Onassis Cultural Centre in Manhattan. They’re the people shaking their heads in disbelief at the art treasures they’ve come across — free — in basement galleries in a Fifth Avenue high-rise next to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. And the centre’s current show, “Gods and Mortals at Olympus: Ancient Dion, City of Zeus,” truly is a wonder…"

For its part the Wall Street Journal admitted, "’Gods and Mortals,’ the inaugural show after the OCCNY’s renovation, looks stunning".

A series of events and educational courses for visitors of all ages were held in the sidelines of the exhibition. Simon Critchley, Professor of Philosophy, invited the public to a peripatetic discussion within the exhibition space, featuring special guest speakers like the writer and director Bryan Doerries (who dealt with the seen and unseen traumas of war) and Zainab Bahrani, Professor of Middle Eastern Archaeology and Art at Columbia University (who explored cultural heritage in times of war).

Three Sundays in April, May and June were dedicated to kids aged 6 to 10, offering explorations, paper crafts, mask and model-making as well as storytelling. Free tours for the public were on offer, as well as organised tours for groups of visitors and schools.

The Onassis Cultural Centre also commissioned an interactive game from Leda Mantzourani and Alex Giannikidis’ creative studio Culturplay. The outcome was the ‘Secrets of the Past’ app that visitors could use on an iPad in the exhibition space. The player took on the role of the director of excavations at Ancient Dion and with a team of virtual assistants had to decide how to continue the exploration, choose the tools to use, take the finds to the lab, keep an excavation journal and then organise the exhibition of the finds. The app is free to download from the Apple App Store via onassisusa.org/dion.

(photos are by Beowulf Sheehan).


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