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Auckland Museum to host iconic British Exhibition

Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland War Memorial Museum will bring a major international exhibition exclusively to Auckland in July 2020 – Ancient Greeks: Athletes, Warriors and Heroes.

The exhibition, from the British Museum’s world-renowned collection from the Ancient Greek world, is the largest selection of ancient artefacts ever loaned by the British Museum to New Zealand.

It will showcase a wide range of treasures and stories and includes a selection of iconic sculptures from the ‘Mausoleum at Halikarnassos’, one of the seven wonders of the Ancient World.

“With over 170 objects, it will be one of the most significant exhibitions the British Museum has toured to Australasia,” says Dr David Gaimster, Chief Executive of Auckland War Memorial Museum.

“This will enable Aucklanders and visitors to the city the opportunity to get up close and explore a wide range of artefacts never before seen in New Zealand.”

Ancient Greek civilization has had a profound influence on the development of language, politics, educational systems, philosophy, science, and the arts around the world. Artistic, physical and intellectual competition pervaded all of society and this exhibition, coinciding with the 2020 Olympics in Toyko, highlights that competition can unify, resulting in achievement and innovation.

Key objects in the show include iconic black and red ceramics featuring finely drawn depictions of athletes, gods and citizens; stunning marble and terracotta, statues and reliefs – including many fine nudes; bronze figurines; weapons and armour; toys and games; fine gold jewellery; and coins.

“As we acknowledge the 90th anniversary of Auckland War Memorial Museum in Auckland Domain, the influence of the Ancient Greeks can be seen at this very site, reflected in the architecture of this iconic heritage building,” says Dr Gaimster.

Ancient Greeks: Athletes, Warriors and Heroes is being displayed in the Southern Hemisphere for the first time by the British Museum and is being toured in partnership with the National Museum of Australia in Canberra and the Western Australian Museum.

Hartwig Fischer, director of the British Museum said, ‘‘This exhibition presents many masterpieces from the British Museum’s world-famous collection. The objects have enlightened our understanding of the ancient Greek world and have been brought together to tell a unique story for this exhibition. We are delighted to work alongside the Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland War Memorial Museum, the National Museum of Australia and the Western Australian Museum, to share these collections for the first time across Australasia.”

Tāmaki Makaurau is the first in the South Hemisphere to showcase this exhibition.

“To enable this exhibition to come to these shores, a strategic Trans-Tasman partnership has been established with the Western Australian Museum in Perth and the National Museum of Australia in Canberra,” says Dr Gaimster. “This new partnership will cement Australasia on the global cultural touring exhibition map.”

Alec Coles, Chief Executive Officer of the Western Australian Museum says, “this partnership is groundbreaking as it creates a sustainable way for leading Trans-Tasman museums to bring the world’s treasures to the Southern Hemisphere.”

“The collaboration enables not only the sharing of transportation costs, but also the development of additional content tailored specifically for our audiences,” says Dr Mathew Trinca, National Museum of Australia in Canberra.

With support from Auckland’s economic development agency, Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED), this exhibition will introduce a richer special exhibition offering, allowing Aucklanders to visit a world-class exhibition in their own backyard. This impressive and impactful introduction to an ancient culture has never before been showcased in Auckland in this way or to this scale.

ATEED General Manager Destination, Steve Armitage says, “this exhibition is a fantastic opportunity for Tāmaki Makaurau, enriching our existing world-class arts and culture programme for locals and visitors in 2020 and beyond, which in turn will contribute meaningful social and economic benefits to the visitor economy.”

“The Auckland Museum is the perfect home for this exceptional exhibition and complements the region’s vibrant urban qualities.”

Ancient Greeks: Athletes, Warriors and Heroes, on for a limited time only, will open to the public on Friday 3 July 2020.

It is the first international touring exhibition to be hosted in Auckland Museum’s new Auaha Atea Nui Special Exhibition Suite.


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