Stunning Exhibition Opens at Onassis Cultural Center in NYC; A World of Emotions Provokes, Inspires Lessons About Greek Humanity

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Exhibitions are meant to move the viewer. To inspire, to provoke, to inspire and to make him or her inquire, ponder— even laugh and cry.

On display in Midtown Manhattan are 130 Ancient Greek objects that together— and even separately, do all of the above, and then some, by introducing the viewer to the way Ancient Greeks expressed themselves and exposed their raw emotions and humanity.

“A World of Emotions” is a free exhibition that opened March 9 and runs through June 24.

Some works appear for the first time in the United States, on loan from dozens of museums including the Acropolis Museum and the National Archaeological Museum, in Athens. Other objects are on loan from the Louvre in Paris, the British Museum in London and the Musei Vaticani in Vatican City.

The collection digs deep into ancient Greek history, mythology and religion, drama and everyday life to highlight the Greek interpretation of humanity in all of its shapes, iterations— and emotions.

Installation views of A World of Emotions: Ancient Greece 700 BC – 200 AD, Onassis Cultural Center New York, 2017. Photo: Joseph Coscia, Jr.

Together, the pieces portray how the Ancient Greeks, themselves, interpreted various emotions— death on a battlefield, love and sexual desire in the bedroom or the premature death of an infant.

As a guest, viewing the individual pieces or contemplating it as a whole, a similar range of emotions overcomes you.

How can you not think of the parents who laid their toddler to rest, choosing a depiction of him playing with his favorite puppy on a tombstone?

Having loved, how can you not feel the pain on Achilles’ face as he thrusts a sword into the chest of Penthesilia, the Amazon queen he killed and later regretted terribly.

And although not intended by the Ancients, how can you not chuckle at a relief of a giant phallus— complete with wings and arms— that was used in antiquity as a form of protection from curses?

The exhibition is free and open daily, except Sundays. Free guided tours are offered during the week. Check here for the complete hours and schedule.

Heads of Achilles and Penthesileia, Marble, 2nd century AD, copy of a Hellenistic original, Italy, Antikenmuseum Basel und Sammlung Ludwig, BS 298, BS 214 © Antikenmuseum Basel und Sammlung Ludwig. Photograph: Rüdi Habegger

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