A few words about the exhibition

The exhibition narrates histories of men and heroes, known and unknown “Odysseys”, personal and collective ones. Objects from all the collections of the museum and from all the periods are interlinked with the thread of diachrony to recount the “journey” of life through three thematic axes:

THE JOURNEY presents tangible evidence of the ceaseless quest of man for raw materials, knowledge and ideas. Τhe variegated cargo of a conceptual ship and the myths that accompanied the sea journeys of ancient people create an allusive environment of adventure and knowledge.

ITHACAS are inspired by the homecoming (nostos) of Odysseus and devoted to the homelands of all people. Ecumenical ideas and concepts are exemplified by works that embody the collective effort of societies to ensure development and prosperity, as well as the urge of human existence to defy its perishableness.

In the EXODUS, ancient creations symbolically denote great achievements of the human mind and spirit inviting each one of us to pick up the torch of creativity.

The exhibits serve as symbols-signs condensing concepts and ideas. Their diachronic aspects of symbolism are enhanced by the verses of poets, bridging the distance between antiquity and the present

The exhibition marked the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the museum in 2016
and was presented from October 4, 2016 to March 24, 2018.

The Journey

In this axis, in a setting that alludes to sea travel, the visitor encounters the enduring evidence of the voyages of the ancients, the myths and the beliefs they encompassed, the material prosperity and spiritual benefits that these offered.

The axis acts in a symbolic manner and implies the incessant search of man for raw materials, knowledge, ideas, the fascination with the challenge of the unknown, the resourcefulness and the strengthening of the soul which results from the struggle against nature and the risks it entails.

Sea routes

Oared and masted ships in military and trading expeditions set up age-old sea routes through the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.

The everlasting relationship of humans with the marine environment and the achievements of ancient people at open sea were vividly depicted in their art.

Gods and demons, heroic generations
and legendary journeys

Adventures and exploits of mythical heroes in faraway lands preserve the memory of the wanderings of pioneering travellers in their quest for wealth resources and new lands, as well as their struggle against the forces of nature.

Valuable cargoes: testimonies to civilizations

Raw materials and goods are circulated in the Aegean from the prehistoric period onwards and throughout historic times.

They form a “cargo” of valuable testimonies: they outline trade networks in the eastern Mediterranean as well as central and north Europe, and reveal the intense contacts and interactions among different civilizations of the ancient world.


The end of the journey is associated in the Homeric Odyssey with the return home and the blissful reunion with the beloved. The exhibition explores the diachronic Ithacas as a natural landscape, as a place for collective act and a space for self-fulfilment.

The Place

If you deconstruct Greece, you will in the end see
an olive tree, a grape vine, and a boat remain.
That is: with as much, you reconstruct her.

O. Elytis, The Little Seafarer

The Place

Characteristic elements of the Greek nature signal the homecoming of the traveller. Natural landscape coexists and converses with the place of collective action.

Reconstructing the timeless Ithacas

Resources – Religion – Hegemony – War – Constitution – Art – Philosophy – Love – Death

The confrontation of Odysseus with the suitors in order to recover his house and kingdom and reinstate his institutional role has given rise to a semiological reconstruction of human action within the context of society. Diachronic acts and situations, meanings and ideas that exceed time function as points of reference: resources and human creation, religion and hegemony, war and claim, state institutions, democracy, philosophy, art and culture and, finally, love and death.




Works, landmarks for the human intellect, transcend time and take us beyond its limits:
the writing as codification of thought and action, the rendering of the ideal human form, with body and spirit binding together in perfect harmony, the opening to the vastness of the universe with the help of technology.

The journey does not end.

The “thunderbolt” of Zeus has by now been placed into our hands, its energy summons us to creative action…


View the exhibition catalogue

Minor Odysseys

The exhibition “Minor Odysseys” presented 35 selected antiquities of the National Archaeological Museum, in conjunction with 21 paintings by modern

Greek artists and 21 historic maps from the collections of the Parliamentary Library. It is presented at the Hellenic Parliament Building, from March to November 2017, and was another version of the larger Odysseys exhibition at the National Archaeological Museum.

The Minor Odysseys do not aspire to present exhaustively the idea and all aspects of the major exhibition, but represent a more gestural, artistic and aesthetic approach, since the prehistoric crafted objects interact, in an original way, with the seascapes of modern Greek art, and the prints of European cartography, offering the viewer images of sailing on Greek seas from prehistoric antiquity to modern times, showing its timeless multiple and poetic nature.

The exhibition is structured into three main parts. In the first, entitled “The endless voyage on the Greek seas”, as well as the second on the theme “The sea as source of artistic inspiration”, selected antiquities, the majority of which are from the Museum’s prehistoric collection, commune with paintings by modern Greek artists chosen from the Parliament’s Art Collection, creating selective relations on criteria related to meaning, iconography, style and aesthetics. The third section entitled “The paper Archipelago: The Aegean of the Hellenism” presents outstanding historic maps of the Aegean, which in turn are correlated to the ancient objects and paintings in the two previous sections.

It is precisely this interconnection of modern and contemporary Greeks with their past, that is being attempted through the Minor Odysseys, guided by the archetypal figure of Odysseus, in a great voyage of aesthetics, self-knowledge and cosmopolitanism.

Minor Odysseys

Views of the exhibition units

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