The Olympic voyage on show

“You will be reminded of Cavafy – you will see the ‘journey’ to the opening ceremony. You have seen the ceremony itself – you will now see how we got there,» the concept creator of the Olympic ceremonies, Dimitris Papaioannou, told journalists a few minutes after the end of his meeting with Alternate Culture Minister Fanni Palli-Petralia and Benaki Museum Director Angelos Delivorias. He refused to elaborate further (his allusion was to the poet Cavafy’s «Ithaca»). The meeting failed to produce all people had hoped for: Although the New Wing of the Benaki Museum will host a large exhibition to present the process of the conception and realization of the Opening Ceremony of the Athens Olympics, there has been no talk of making the exhibition permanent. There is no need for haste, however, for the Benaki Museum exhibition may be an important first step toward a permanent display on the ceremonies that could be housed in a future Olympic Museum in Athens. «The Olympic Games left us a great heritage, which we want to keep alive,» said Palli-Petralia, who took the initiative for the exhibition. She thanked both Papaioannou and Delivorias for responding to the suggestion to create this display, which «will present the idea, the process and the actual performance of the Opening Ceremony, which was indeed unique.» Delivorias did not provide any further details. «You can’t find out everything today and spoil the surprise we are preparing for you. For it will be a surprise, much like the ceremony itself was.» What could the upcoming exhibition feature? Probably the plans and materials Papaioannou’s team used, and definitely the striking costumes – most notably, we assume, those from Angelos Mentis’s parade, which illustrated all of Greek history. A significant part of the exhibition will be dedicated to the three years of hard work that preceded the ceremonies. «We will show you all the details of the preparations for the Opening Ceremony,» said Papaioannou. Palli-Petralia’s initiative does not negate other efforts to utilize, on a more organized basis, the wider benefits that Greece derived from the Olympic ceremonies. And now that the future of the Olympic venues is the subject of intense debate, what could be a better background for the Benaki Museum exhibition than the Maroussi Olympic Complex itself, where the ceremonies took place? At a time when the government is busily seeking funds to cover the huge cost of the Games, constructing a museum that would showcase the ceremonies at the Olympic stadium is an idea to ponder on.