National Hellenic Museum
Andy Cornish: March 2014
Photo: National Hellenic Museum
Delve into the greatest collection of Greek culture.
The National Hellenic Museum in Chicago is one of America's oldest institutions. It celebrates Greek cultural influences and is home to an extensive library of artefacts dating back to 1200 BC. The museum also hosts events each year promoting Greek literature, history, art and cuisine. Andy Cornish learns more about an enviable array of treasures.
Based in Chicago's Greektown, on South Halsted Street, the Museum has gone through numerous transformations and rebranding.
Founded as the Hellenic Museum and Cultural Center in 1983, it wasn't until 1992 that HMCC launched its first museum facility which was then located on Michigan Avenue.
Since then the museum has been transformed into a world recognised site for promoting and showcasing Greek history, culture and art.
The summer of 2009 saw a major rebrand and a new name. The 'National Hellenic Museum' as it is now known was given a fresh new logo and a new mission statement: "Connecting generations through Greek history, culture and art".
The museum boasts an enviable array of treasures spanning over a thousand years of Greek history. Among the many artefacts you will find artwork and photographs, musical instruments, transitional costumes and furniture.
There are also almost 15,000 books and publications in the document library. These documents include handwritten letters, a huge collection of Greek-language newspapers and some priceless 17th and 18th century manuscripts.
The National Hellenic Museum also forms an important social hub for the America-Greek community. There are many events taking place throughout the year on a weekly or monthly schedule which is well documented on the website.
Several larger events such as the annual Ambrosia Ball attract positive media coverage in the local press offering dinner, music and ethnic performances with a Greek theme to special guests. Well known chefs from around the world have also been known to use the venue to showcase popular Mediterranean cooking.
This month, the museum is celebrating Greek Independence with children from a local Greek school performing songs, poems and displaying craft work.
There is also a Greek Independence parade, commemorating the 193rd anniversary of Greek independence. The Museum's Greek Language and Culture Classes will ride the National Hellenic Museum's float down Halsted from W. Randolph Street to Van Buren.