News / Announcements

02.03.2017 / Announcements


9 March – 24 June

One hundred and thirty masterpieces from some of the world’s leading museums are brought together for the exhibition of the Onassis Cultural Center New York, raising questions with regard to the ways we express, control, manipulate, or simulate emotions in contemporary societies.  

Athens, Thursday, 2 March 2017.  The Iliad begins with the word “wrath”. On the other hand, devastated Aegeus falls from Sounion, when he sets eyes on the black sails that bring back Theseus from Crete. Antigone loudly proclaims that she was born to join in love not hate, while Jocasta tells Oedipus that “Many a man before you, in his dreams, has shared his mother’s bed”. If the ancient world is the world of logic and moderation of thought, it is also the world of emotions. The groundbreaking exhibition “A World of Emotions: Ancient Greece 700 BC – 200 AD” of the Onassis Cultural Center New York illuminates this universe which remains in many respects out of sight.

Free of charge, the exhibition opens on 9 March and ends on 24 June 2017. It brings together more than 130 masterpieces from leading museums internationally, such as Acropolis Museum (Athens), National Archeological Museum (Athens), the Louvre (Paris), British Museum (London), and Vatican Museums (Vatican City). Its aim is to explore people’s ideas and behaviors with regard to emotions, as well as the way these were depicted in classic antiquity.

Developed by a team of distinguished guest curators, the exhibition includes vases, sculpture (from life-sized statues from the Acropolis to funerary reliefs), theater masks, amulets, coins, and votive offerings, as well as other artifacts, dating from the beginning of 700 BC (generally accepted as the period when the Iliad was written) to 200 AD. Many of these items are presented for the first time in the USA; some of them are seen for the first time outside Greece. As a whole, these objects give us the opportunity to think again about the role of emotions in our private, social, and political life. At the same time, they contribute to the promotion of the relatively new field of history of emotions.

Talking about the exhibition, Dr. Anthony Papadimitriou, President of the Onassis Foundation, noted the following: “The exhibition ‘A World of Emotions’ and the events surrounding it strongly express the mission of the Onassis Foundation: that is, to support educational and cultural initiatives in order to achieve social cohesion.

The exhibition is not only a rare and reflective thematic collection of beautiful and fascinating objects of the ancient world. It is much more, in that it contributes to the deeper understanding of our everyday reality. We are deeply grateful to the esteemed curators for this important exhibition and its very enlightening catalogue.”

For her part, Amalia Cosmetatou, Executive Director and Director of Cultural Affairs of the Onassis Foundation USA pointed out: “Due to the curators’ brilliant work, the exhibition will contribute greatly to scholarship. At the same time, it will introduce the public to objects that still have the power to move and fascinate more than 2000 years since they were made.”

The exhibition curators are Angelos Chaniotis, Professor of Ancient History and Classics at the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton), and a member of the board of the Onassis Foundation USA; Nikolaos Kaltsas, Director Emeritus of the National Archeological Museum; and Ioannis Mylonopoulos, Associate Professor of Ancient Greek Art and Archeology at Columbia University. The fully illustrated exhibition catalogue will include essays by such scholars as David Konstan and Joseph E. LeDoux. It will also include contributions from almost 60 European and American writers. “Obviously we cannot study in a direct manner the neurobiological processes of people in ancient Greece. However, we can observe the way in which social norms, religious beliefs, philosophical ideas, and education conditioned the manifestations of emotions, as well as the ways in which emotions redefined in turn social interaction, political behavior, and religious practice”, writes the distinguished historian Angelos Chaniotis in the exhibition catalogue.

Parallel Activities

Parallel to the exhibition, there will be a wide range of artworks, programs, and events, in what will be a strongly diverse program that aims for public participation in the unfolding dialogue on emotions. The impressive diptych painting “Black Frames” by Jannis Varelas, a commission for this exhibition, will be on the Art Wall of the atrium space of the Onassis Cultural Center New York. Philosopher and member of the board of directors of the Onassis Foundation Simon Critchley and the writer John Freeman will host the peripatetic conversations series “Let’s Walk”, engaging famous guests such as actress Fiona Shaw and writer and editor of New Yorker Magazine Judith Thurman. At the same time, there will be a series of organized tours and programs for families. In the context of Easter Week, on 3 April the Onassis Cultural Center New York will host a concert of Byzantine Chants at the exhibition space in collaboration with the Axion Esti Foundation.

Collaborations with Other Institutions 

The Onassis Cultural Center New York continues to collaborate with American cultural institutions, and in particular with the New York Library and the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) creating special programs in the context of the exhibition “A World of Emotions”. Furthermore, Carnegie Hall has curated a music playlist which will accompany the exhibition, and which will be available on the website > as well as on Spotify. The playlist brings out the musical expression of emotions through works of different genres and periods from Byzantine masses to medieval songs, and from Maria Callas to contemporary works by Osvaldo Golijov, Arvo Pärt, and Alfred Schnittke.


The objects exhibited have been kindly offered by the following institutions and museums:


1. Ministry of Culture and Sports:

Archeological Collection of Acharnes (Ephorate of East Attica Athens,), Acropolis Museum, Kerameikos Archaeological Museum, Numismatic Museum, Athens, Museum of the Ancient Agora, National Archeological Museum, Athens, Archaeological Museum of Delos, Heraklion Archaeological Museum, Archaeological Museum of Ioannina, Diachronic Museum of Larissa, Archaeological Museum of Marathon, Archaeological Museum of Piraeus, Archaeological Museum of Pella, Pythagorion Archaeological Museum, Samos, Archaeological Museum of Vathi, Thera, Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki, Archaeological Museum Thebes, Archaeological Museum of Veroia, Archaeological Museum of Vravrona.

 2. Museum of Cycladic Art – Nikolaos P. Goulandris Foundation

3. Georgios Tsolozidis Collection


The Louvre, Department of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities, Paris



Staatlichen Antikensammlungen und Glyptothek, Munich



Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Napoli, Musei Capitolini, Rome, & Centrale Montemartini, Rome



Antikenmuseum Basel und Sammlung Ludwig, Basel


United Kingdom

British Museum, London


United States of America

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, & Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York


The Vatican

Musei Vaticani, Vatican City


In Brief: Onassis Cultural Center New York

Onassis Cultural Center Νew Υork promotes Hellenic civilization from antiquity to today through a rich and diverse series of exhibitions, events, and online activities for a public of all ages and interests. Programs and exhibitions designed for the public, children and families, as well as academics and researchers, are free of charge to make it accessible to all.


 In Brief: Onassis Foundation USA

An affiliate of the Onassis Foundation, the Onassis Foundation USA is committed to the promotion of Hellenic civilization. Working with education and cultural institutions in Greece and the USA, it promotes the cultural relations between these two countries. Its mission has two main angles. The first one features cultural and educational events for the public at the Onassis Cultural Center New York. The second is academic, namely the University Seminars Program, through which renowned international academics give seminars in universities of North and Latin America on Hellenic civilization.  


Onassis Foundation USA and Onassis Cultural Center NY in Numbers (2000-2016):

Cultural – Educational Projects and Events

18 exhibitions on ancient and modern Hellenic culture, 1.564 lectures, 467 school visits, 392 cultural actions, 16 contemporary installations, more than 900.000 visitors.

Academic Activities

1.740 seminar lectures and courses on Hellenic culture have been organized in collaboration with 210 visiting professors and 500 educational university programs and departments, and other cultural institutions. Estimated attendance was 95.000 people.

For more information on the Onassis Foundation New York and the Onassis Cultural Center New York, as well as the exhibition “A World of Emotions”, please visit the website



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