Scholars' Association News
Issue 41
February 2017


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Educational programmes for all from the Onassis Foundation

This year the Onassis Foundation is offering a host of free educational programmes for all ages, most of which will take place at the wonderful Onassis Library housed at 56 Amalias Ave. Workshops, educational tours and interesting topics showcasing the Onassis Library's cultural wealth, inventive activities and innovative approaches taken by the Cavafy Archive, and dynamic special education workshops make up a rich mosaic of educational programmes that hold out the promise of "a special day out" for all ages. The Onassis Foundation's educational programmes were presented at a press conference in the Onassis Library on 21 November.

The Onassis Foundations' director of communication, Afroditi Panagiotakou, focused on the library's content, pointing out –among other things– that its books are the works of scholars and intellectuals who believed that the national conscience could be shaped through education. "It's interesting to note that thanks to the support of those who are now recognised as national benefactors, there was a high volume of publishing activity in the 18th and 19th centuries. In most cases, those books talk about freedom, and pointed out that education itself was the only way in which a national identity could be forged. In times like these, when the idea of national conscience is frequently hijacked and associated with intolerance and fanaticism, it is worth stressing that education and culture are not merely vehicles for national identity but also for social cohesion. And that is one of our unwavering principles at the Onassis Foundation," concluded Afroditi Panagiotakou.

Talking about the aim of these educational programmes, the Onassis Foundation's Library and Digital Programmes Officer, Vicky Gerontopoulou, stressed that, "The Onassis Library's educational activities seek to bring children and adults into fruitful contact with Greece's cultural heritage, through creative readings, and the use of new technologies and digital applications. At the same time, the importance and content of rare documents stored in the Onassis Foundation's collections is being showcased. We hope to mobilise and inspire the younger generation to discover this rich cultural treasure house, as books are presented both as a means of transmitting ideas and as works of art".

The Cavafy Archive's project manager, Thodoris Hiotis pointed out that, "The Cavafy Archive's educational activities seek to disseminate the works of C. P. Cavafy through a series of programmes, aimed at junior and senior high school pupils, students, researchers and the general public. The Cavafy Archive's educational activities have been designed to further provoke interest not just among younger generations but also people not aware of Cavafy's work, and to promote and support innovative research, to stimulate creative involvement with Cavafy's work as well as utilise new media and art forms". The Cavafy Archive's educational activities were presented by Thodoros Hiotis along with the Cavafy Archive's assistant project manager Marianna Christofi, who set out details of the innovative series of lectures and research seminars entitled "International Cavafy Summer School" which will be held in the summer of 2017.

The two well-known special education programmes "Music loves Autism" and "Come along! Draw musical notes!" which have kicked off for another year in Athens and the regions, were mentioned by the programme director Afroditi Panagiotakou: "The Onassis Foundation's two special education programmes have a common aim: to help kids express their feelings through music and art. Rhythm, melodic lines, art materials and social stories set to music are the ingredients in a series of structured -but fun- music and art activities. Through these fun activities children develop social and communication skills, operate as part of a team and become the protagonists in their own actions. For their part, parents discover the potential hidden within their kids and they're given a unique chance to play with them, to reward them in a music and art-filled environment, without the stress of having to perform and achieve".

The press conference was also attended by actors Alexandra Aidini and Argyris Pantazaras, who read extracts from the work Erotocritos and Hellenic Nomarchy respectively, to showcase two of the valuable treasures in the Onassis Library in wonderful fashion.

The 2016-2017 programme can be summarised as follows:

Onassias Library Educational Programmes:

  • Children's and family workshops
  • Lectures for adults
  • Educational workshops
  • Educational tours

Cavafy Archive Educational Programmes:

  • Onassis Library-based activities (lectures, performance lectures, research seminars)
  • Extramural activities: Cavafy goes to school
  • International Cavafy Summer School

Special education programmes:

  • "Music loves Autism" programme
  • "Come along! Draw musical notes!" programme

As part of the children's and family workshops in December we ran the "History of books: Bookbinding" programme followed by "Homer's Odyssey" which consisted of the following topics "In search of Ithaca", "Art works inspired by the Homeric epic" and "Technological achievements in the Homeric epics". The new children's and family workshops include "Art narratives" (11 and 18 February), "Bookbinding workshop: transform the book" for the deaf and hard of hearing under 25 (16 March) and "Typography through a computer's eyes" (30 April).

Adult educational programmes which include talks inspired by the Onassis Library covered the following topics: From the Enlightenment to the Enphotonment" by Dimitrios Nanopoulos, acclaimed professor of high energy physics at A&M University, Texas and ordinary member of the Athens Academy; "Erotos Apotelesmata, or a morality-love tale with political songs ... in the Vienna, Austria of 1792" by Prof. Eleni Kourmantzi, of St. Cyril and St. Methodius University of Veliko Tarnovo Bulgaria; "The Attraction of the Unknown: From the Thule of Pytheas to the Monoliths of Space Odyssey and the planet Solaris" by University of Athens Professors Ioannis Daglis and Evanthi Hatzivasiliou, and "Art works inspired by the Homeric epics" by University of Athens Asst. Professor, Dimitris Pavlopoulos, and Ph.D Candidate Nefeli Kaimaka. This series of talks ended on 28 January with the talk on "Space sounds and music" by University of Athens Professor of Space Physics, Ioannis Daglis, and composer Dimitris Maronidis, as well as composer and pianist Gundega Smite.

The next series of talks started on 2 February entitled "Pictures and stories: the Onassis Library as a repository of Greek historical experience". The opening talk was by book historian and architect Konstantinos Staikos, "Collecting for the general public". That will be followed by talks on: "Typography in publishing using examples from the Onassis Library and modern literature" by designer Dimitris Legakis and graphic designer Giannis Karlopoulos; "Mobilis in mobile: the library as the supreme monster of Western imagination" by the author Thanasis Triaridis and "Touring as an experience and record" by Zisis Kotionis, Professor of Architecture. Finally, to celebrate the 25th of March and Greek Independence, there will be a whole day of events and tours at the Library, talks about Hellenic Nomarchy by Prof. Eleni Kourmantzi with the actor Stelios Mainas as narrator, and a bookbinding workshop run by the bookbinders Babis Lengas and Ioanna Raisaki.

The complete programme of events with detailed descriptions of the 2016-2017 educational events can be found on the Onassis Library's official website:

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