The treasures of the ancient Greeks from the British Museum arrive in Australia and New Zealand


The treasures of ancient Greece from the British Museum arrive at the National Museum of Australia, the Western Australian Museum and the Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland War Memorial Museum.

Presenting a range of 180 objects, the exhibition will be centered around the concept of competition and its appearance in sport, politics, theater, music and war. The exhibit, titled Ancient Grecs: Athletes, Warriors and Heroes, will first open at WA’s Boola Bardip Museum in June, before heading to the National Museum of Australia (NMA) in Canberra from December 17, and then to across the Tasman Sea to Auckland. , New Zealand in 2022.

NMA Director Mathew Trinca thanked the British Museum, claiming that this unique collaboration has enabled cultural institutions to pool and harness their resources to deliver world-class shows of this type to their audiences.

“We are delighted that we can finally bring the Ancient Greeks to the East Coast public after a 12 month delay,” said Trinca. “I know the public will be fascinated by the stories of competition in the Ancient greek world and by the beautiful representations of athletes, ceramics, sculptures, armor and jewelry presented in the show.

Echoing Trinca’s sentiments, WA Museum CEO Alec Coles noted that his museum was thrilled to be the first stop on the exhibition tour.

Girl playing the aulos or the double flute, circa 480 BC. Attic with red figures on a vase. Fletcher Fund, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. (Marie-Lan Nguyen / CC-BY 2.5)

The exhibition will be include the iconic black and red ceramics from the British Museum featuring intricately drawn depictions of athletes, gods and citizens; superb statues and reliefs in marble and terracotta; weapons and armor; toys and games; fine gold jewelry; and coins.

Ancient Greek society is considered to be one of the roots of Western society, which influenced language, politics, education systems, philosophy, science, and the modern arts across the world.

“The Mermaid Vase”, fifth century BC, Mermaid Painter, Vulci, Greece. Earthenware, height: 13 inches. British Museum, London. (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

“The themes of ancient Greek culture shared in this exhibit, including sports, the arts, politics and philosophy, are legacies that continue to permeate our daily lives. I have no doubt that the public in Western Australia and visitors to our state marvel at the artistry and beauty of the objects and reflect on the profound influences of this period on our world today, ”a Coles said.

The exhibit was originally scheduled to tour the southern hemisphere in 2020, but was delayed amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the fourth collaboration between the British Museum and the Australian and New Zealand National Museums, which have previously hosted Rome: City and Empire, A History of the World in 100 Objects and Encounters: Revealing Stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Objects from the English Museum.

Exhibition dates

The exhibition will be inaugurated at the following locations.

  • Western Australian Museum, Perth, June 20 to November 7, 2021.
  • National Museum of Australia, Canberra, December 17 to May 1, 2022.
  • Auckland War Memorial Museum, June 10 to October 16, 2022.


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