By Fotis Kaliambakos – Special to the Hellenic News of America
A festive atmosphere enveloped the bustling salon of the Consulate General’s residence in Manhattan during the reception hosted by Konstantinos Konstantinou, Consul General of Greece in New York. The occasion was to honor the distinguished guests who had traveled from Greece for the official opening of the Cycladic Art Collection exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
In his welcoming remarks, Mr. Konstantinou highlighted the significance of the exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum in promoting Greek culture. He also praised the invaluable contributions of the Museum of Cycladic Art over the years. Following his address, Sandra Marinopoulou, President of the Museum of Cycladic Art, took the floor. Mrs. Marinopoulou also emphasized the importance of the collaboration with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, which, following the successful exhibition of the Stern collection, had entered a new era of partnership.
She provided a brief overview of the history and achievements of the Museum of Cycladic Art, renowned for its remarkable collection of Cycladic culture artifacts, rivaled only by the National Archaeological Museum of Athens and, as of last week, the MET in New York.
Mrs. Marinopoulou also touched on the captivating allure that Cycladic idols had exerted on prominent artists, especially during the Modernist era. She showcased artworks inspired by these idols, including works by Picasso and others. This allure had placed Cycladic art at the forefront of the 20th-century art scene and led to increased demand for these artifacts in the global market. Unfortunately, it also sparked illegal excavations in the Cyclades during the 1950s and 1960s, resulting in the unlawful export of numerous Cycladic artifacts. The Museum of Cycladic Art had played a crucial role in repatriating many of these objects, and it had now curated a unique collection and exhibition in the heart of Athens.
The Museum’s distinctive setting allowed for contemporary art exhibitions that engaged in a meaningful dialogue with Cycladic idols and other prehistoric artifacts. Mrs. Marinopoulou mentioned some of the world-renowned artists involved in these exhibitions. Currently, the museum was hosting an exhibition about a pivotal battle in ancient history, titled “Chaeronea, August 2, 338 BC: A Day that Changed the World!” This exhibition was expected to have a profound impact on global history.
The President of the Museum of Cycladic Art also highlighted the museum’s strong ties with the communities of the Cyclades islands, known for their unparalleled beauty. These islands were the birthplace of the unique Cycladic civilization. The museum actively collaborated with local authorities and island residents on various initiatives aimed at conserving biodiversity and protecting the environment. Additionally, it celebrated the intangible cultural heritage of the Cyclades, encompassing dietary habits, distinctive music, and deeply rooted local customs and traditions.
Many supporters of the “Cycladic Identity” program attended the event, including Katherine Embiricos and Titina Patera.
Mrs. Marinopoulou announced the date of the annual gala of the Museum of Cycladic Art in New York, scheduled for November 18 at the Metropolitan Museum. She invited all attendees to participate in this special event, given the presence of the new exhibition at the same venue.
The reception at the Consulate General’s residence followed the official exhibition opening and drew a crowd of distinguished guests. Among them were Ambassador Georgios Sekeris, the Permanent Representative of Greece to the United Nations, prominent historian and Columbia University professor Mark Mazower, and renowned cardiologist Georgios Dagas.
The event’s host, Mr. Konstantinou, personally expressed his gratitude to Markos Drakotos, President of the Board of Directors of the Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce (HACC), who generously sponsored the evening. Mr. Drakotos was also responsible for selecting the chef, who crafted exquisite and inventive appetizers, accompanied by white wine sourced from the Cyclades.
The event also saw the presence of Ioannis, the Director of AHEPA, and Alexandra Mitsaki, the Executive Director.