NEWS

The many faces of Victory are on show at the Numismatic Museum

The scaffolding erected in the garden of the Numismatic Museum has less to do with the work soon to begin on the imposing mansion at 12 Panepistimiou Street, and much to do with the exhibition on Nike, the goddess of victory, that opened on September 26. A photography display, the exhibition marks European Heritage Days 2003 celebrated by all museums, and which this year is dedicated to sporting ideals and every competitive activity that is infused with the spirit of noble rivalry. Until October 31, visitors to the Numismatic Museum will be able to admire the banners that have been hung up in its garden, each bearing about 10 photographs each, all on the theme of the goddess. The photographs depict Nike as rendered on coins and medals from the sixth century BC to the present: victory in war and peace, victory wreaths, the crowning of the victor, the victory chariot, victory trophies and so forth. The purpose of the exhibition is to present the symbols of victory and explore how it was depicted visually. A deity each civilization accorded first place, Nike was Alexander the Great’s emblem, dominated Roman worship (as Victoria), was transformed into an angel in Byzantium, and identified with fame and glory during the Renaissance. Once a common theme of paintings and medallions, Nike has regularly appeared on Olympic Games medals since the 19th century. On a separate canvas banner, visitors can see representations of Nike in sculptures, jewelry or other art forms, the new director of the Numismatic Museum, Despina Evgenidou, told Kathimerini. «Some of the most typical Nikes is Alexander’s stater, the first coins of Elis, dating to the sixth century BC, and also the stater struck by Demetrius Poliorcetes (the Besieger), which depicts Nike on the prow of a ship.» But the second floor of the Numismatic Museum, which remains closed, and the scaffolding on the building’s exterior, point to the institution’s ongoing transition. Plans have been drawn up to install an elevator and a canteen. Essentially, the second floor has been turned into a worksite, as conservation work on mosaics and the famed murals continues. «This will be completed shortly. But building work on the museum remains to be done. We’re working on the museological study for the exhibition on the second floor,» said Evgenidou. The first floor, which is open to visitors, contains coins from ancient Greece. When the second floor opens, it will display Roman, Byzantine, medieval and modern coins, and have a special section on the drachma and a hall devoted to finance down the centuries, explained the director. She added that the second floor would also have a smaller area dedicated to coins used as jewelry, with samples dating to the Hellenistic and Byzantine eras, and the 16th, 17th and 19th centuries. This is all for the eyes of the general public. But numismatics has a fanatical following. «For collectors, and for coin-lovers generally, a small, many-windowed area of the museum will be set up, with special coins and medals from the 15th to the 20th centuries, as well as weighing scales,» Evgenidou said. A large hall houses temporary exhibitions. Evgenidou, who took over as director in July 2002, stresses that, for the first time, the museum is under one roof. «Don’t forget the offices, storerooms and laboratories of the Numismatic Museum were recently moved to… [the museum] from the National Archaeological Museum, where they’d been housed since 1946. We thus have to cultivate the museum’s various activities. The Nike exhibition is just one such attempt.»