Major Benaki exhibition to commemorate 1821 War of Independence


Rare archival material on the Greek War of Independence against the Ottoman Turks will emerge from the vaults of three banks for an exhibit at Benaki Museum in 2021, to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the uprising's beginning in 1821.

The Benaki Museum will contribute objects from its own archives, but nearly 100 of the exhibits will first travel to the Louvre, where they will be included in the museum's exhibit "Discovering Greece in the 19th century" from March to June 2021. Until their return, the objects will be replaced in the 1821 exhibit by copies.

"1821, Before and After" will go on show at the museum in March 2021 and remain on view until October of the same year, officials said.

The exhibition, which will take over the entire museum, will have three sections: From 1770 to the start of the revolution in 1821; the unfolding of the war until the appointment of the first governor of the newly-founded state (Ioannis Kapodistrias; and the arrival of King Otto in 1833 to the year 1870.

Objects on exhibit will include paintings, personal items of revolutionary fighters and rare documents.

The exhibit will show "how the sense of Hellenism developed, what the daily life of Greeks was at the time, including their views on events in Europe, and how these are linked to life here," said historian Tassos Sakellaropoulos, responsible for the Benaki Archives.

At a press conference earlier this month, the three banks were represented by Panagiotis Panagakis (director of the Bank of Greece's Centre for Culture, Research and Documentation), Gerassimos Notaras (head of the National Bank's Subdirectorate of the Historical Archive), and Irene Orati (curator of Alpha Bank's Art Collection).

"How often and how clearly do we recall the Greek War of Independence? How did a peoples begin an uprising against an empire and succeeded? What did the Greeks do before and after their independence?," Notaras asked. "These are the questions the exhibit will try to answer."

The exhibit will be dedicated to the memory of the late Angelos Delivorrias, long-time director of the Benaki, and the late Marinos Geroulanos, member of the board of trustees and part of the Benakis family.