I know that I am a little bit late to the party on this one, but after many postponed or cancelled attempts (due to illness, changed travel plans, and mini-blizzards), we finally made it to the National Hellenic Museum last Friday. This Museum has been generating a lot of buzz since its opening a few months ago. After having the chance to check it out, I can definitely see what all of the fuss is about.
The National Hellenic Museum aims to bring Greek history and culture to life in a modern-day setting -- and it is the focus on the modern day that really sets this Museum apart from most others. Everything about this place has a modern feel incorporated into it -- from the sleek, minimalist design to the emphasis on using technology to connect visitors to the past. Smart phones are definitely welcome here!We were fortunate to have Toula Georgakopoulos, the Director of External Affairs, show us around the temporary exhibit Gods, Myths, and Mortals. My kids were wild about this interactive exhibit -- even though the names Zeus, Apollo and Athena mean nothing to them at ages 3, 5 and 7. This large space includes interactive, hands-on opportunities for kids of all ages. And Mom and Dad can check out the real ancient artifacts interspersed throughout the space.
The highlight of the room is a massive Trojan Horse that kids can climb into and Sing with the Sirens -- an ancient Greek take on kareoke. This exhibit does a good job of offering something for everyone. That being said, not every visitor will be able to connect with every aspect of the exhibit. For example, older kids will want to skip the dress up options while younger kids have a tough time manipulating some on the interactive computer activities throughout the exhibit. Older kids (fourth grade and up) who have an basic understanding of Greek mythology will really be able to benefit the most from the experience.
The Museum features much more in its upstairs permanent exhibit space (my kids were just too tired to explore much more after climbing into the Trojan Horse at least a dozen times). Georgakopoulos notes that the permanent exhibit space is a work in progress -- the installation is ongoing and visitors are invited to be a part of that experience as they get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into how a museum puts together an historical exhibit that spans thousands of years.
For more information on the National Hellenic Museum, visit their website. If you are wondering if this museum is something that your kids (or you) would enjoy, trust me when I tell you that you will. During our tour, Gerogakopoulos stressed to me the every-day connections that we all have to Greek culture and she has a great point -- we are all a little bit Greek.
On our next visit, we are definitely stopping for saganaki and taramosalata at Athena afterwards.