The Benaki Museum and the Centre for Asia Minor Studies are co-organising the large commemorative exhibition “Asia Minor Hellenism: Heyday – Catastrophe – Displacement – Rebirth” to mark the centennial anniversary of the Asia Minor Catastrophe.
The exhibition is co-organised by two important institutions that have been studying the legacy of Hellenism in Asia Minor and preserving the refugees’ memories for decades. The Centre for Asia Minor Studies, one of the most important research institutions for the history and culture of Asia Minor, hosts the unique Oral History Archive, compiled on testimonies byover-5,000 first-generation refugees from Asia Minor. Its Musical Folklore Archive contains rare recordings, manuscripts, and documents. These valuable archives, as well as the Library, the numerous publications, and the Bulletin of the Centre contribute decisively to the dialogue between the Greek and the international scholarly communities. The collections of the Benaki Museum, one of the three museums thatreceived relics of thecommunities during their relocation to Greece, document the character of Asia Minor Hellenism in all its temporal and geographical extent, presenting its daily and professional life and art. The Museum’s Historical Archives preserve important testimonies from the Asia Minor campaign and the resettlementof refugees, while exhibits from The Ghika Gallery document the contribution of Asia Minor to 20th-century culture.
In addition to the two co-organisers, the exhibition borrows items from more than 40 organisations, museums, and institutions, custodians of Hellenic history and culture in Asia Minor, as well asover 50 individuals, who generously lend treasures from their private collections. This unprecedented number of public and private lenders ensures the quality and variety of content, as well as the uniqueness of the exhibition, the preparation and research of which began in the fall of 2018.
The exhibition “Asia Minor Hellenism: Heyday – Catastrophe – Displacement – Rebirth”, which will take place thanks to the kind support of sponsors, will be inaugurated in September 2022 at the Benaki Museum / Pireos 138. Both the exhibition and the two accompanying publications are curated by the art historian Evita Arapoglou, in close collaboration with the Director of the Centre for Asia Minor Studies, Professor Paschalis Kitromilidis, member of the Academy of Athens, and the researchers of the Centre, the Academic Director of the Benaki Museum, Dr George Manginis, the curators of the Museum, as well as many collaboratingscholars.
Structure and content of the exhibition
More than 1,100 exhibits and over 500 photographs will bring to life the heyday of Hellenism before the persecutions, the dramatic period between1919 and 1923 as well as the settlement and integration of the Asia Minor refugees in Greece.
Visitors willembark on their journey to the ‘heyday’ of Asia Minor Hellenism (first section) in Ionia and the west coast, they will proceed to Cappadocia and the southern provinces, will travelto Pontus, then continue towards the West andthe environsof Istanbul and they will end up in Eastern Thrace. The heyday will be followed by the period of persecutions, the conclusion of World War I and the ensuing Treaties, the period of the Greek landing in Asia Minor and the ensuingCampaign, the ‘Catastrophe’ of 1922, as well as the ‘Exodus’ of refugees (second section). The third and final section of the exhibition will focus on the settlementand integration of refugees in Greece, as well as their impact on many sectors of Greek society. Part of the epilogue of the exhibition will be dedicated to the creation of the Centre for Asia Minor Studies in 1930 by Melpo and Octave Merlier.
This chronicle will be described through works of art, icons, ecclesiastical, war and personal heirlooms, costume, jewellery, handicrafts, maps, photographs, archival and cinematographic material, newspapers, letters, postcards, and many other items. Excerpts from personal testimonies will complement the narrative, bringing images and silent objects to life.
The exhibition will be accompanied by two substantial anniversary volumes, jointly publishedby the Benaki Museum and the Centre for Asia Minor Studies. The first volume, the catalogue, will be a complete record of the exhibitionand will include the introductory texts of sections, captioned photographs of all exhibits and all archival material, as well as excerpts from the testimonies. The second volume will be a collection of texts by researchers and authors on topics related to the history and culture of Asia Minor Hellenism. Both volumes will also appear in separateEnglish editions.