CULTURE

Benaki lauds the Historical Museum of Crete

Showcasing the work of museums around the country every year on or around International Museum Day (May 18), this year the Benaki Museum in Athens will be spotlighting the Historical Museum of Crete in a special event on May 2 at its Pireos Street annex.

The keynote speaker at the event will be Klairi Mitsotaki, curator and board member of the Society of Cretan Historical Studies, which founded the museum, who will present the work of the museum and an exhibition that opens two days later on May 4, titled ?Rudo Schwarz, Crete, 1943: A Painter in the Wehrmacht Uniform.? The exhibition comprises journals, watercolors, black-and-white photographs and paintings which were donated by the German artist?s family to the Historical Museum of Crete and were shown at the museum in Iraklio last year.

Rudo Schwarz (1906-83) was an artist who enlisted and served in the German military in World War II. He was transferred to Crete in January 1943, where he remained for some 18 months. During this time, Schwartz continued to paint and take photographs, both of the occupying forces and the locals.

Another interesting historical exhibition, meanwhile, is running at the Historical Museum of Crete until the end of May, titled ?1897-1898, Hungarian Soldiers on Crete: The Austro-Hungarian Participation in the Cretan Question.? The exhibition is organized in collaboration with the Budapest Museum of Military History and the Hungarian Embassy and chronicles the role played by Austro-Hungarian troops in divided Crete at a time when it was a focal point of European diplomacy.

According to the material provided by the Historical Museum of Crete, in early April 1897, 2,500 soldiers from six European countries — including the then Austro-Hungarian Empire — landed on Crete, charged with bringing an end to hostilities between Christians and Muslims. Two months earlier, they had been preceded by the arrival of European warships and the landing of small teams of marines, as the Great Powers of the time were concerned that the flaring up of the Cretan Question could provoke new tensions on the European continent. The Austro-Hungarian presence on Crete lasted for about a year and their military divisions withdrew from the island in mid-April 1898.

The displays include rare photographic material from the archives of the militaries of Hungary and Austria, as well as items used by the troops and cartoons from the Hungarian, Austrian and Czech press at the time satirizing the situation in Crete.

Historical Museum of Crete, 27 Sophocles Venizelou, Iraklio, tel 2810.283.219. Open Mondays-Saturdays 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; closed Sundays and public holidays.

Benaki Museum, 138 Pireos Fridays