National Hellenic Museum

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National Hellenic Museum
The finished National Hellenic Museum.jpg
Established 1983
Location 333 Halsted Street
Chicago, IL 60661
United States of America
Collection size ~18,000 Artifacts
~10,000 Archival Items
200 Oral Histories
Visitors 7,000 - 11,000
(Yearly Average)
Public transit access Chicago Blue Line
Halsted Street Stataion
Website [1]

The National Hellenic Museum is the second oldest American institution dedicated to the displaying and celebrating the cultural contributions of Greeks and Greek-Americans. Formerly known as the Hellenic Museum and Cultural Center, the National Hellenic Museum is located in Chicago’s Greektown, at the corner of Halsted and Adams Streets. The National Hellenic Museum has recently undergone a modernization program that cumulated in the museum moving to its current building in December 2011.[1] The official opening of the NHM took place on December 10th, 2011 and proved to be a marked event within the Greek community of Chicago.[2][3]

Created to promote understanding of the rich cultural traditions of ancient and contemporary Greece, as well as a focus on the Greek-American immigrant experience, the National Hellenic Museum has become a fixture in the Greek Community in Chicago.


The literal and ideological corner of Greektown

Founded as the Hellenic Museum and Cultural Center, in 1983, the National Hellenic has a rich history in Chicago.

In 1992, the HMCC opened the doors of its first museum facility, located on Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago. This was two weeks after the Hellenic Cultural Museum in Salt Lake City opened as the first museum dedicated to preserving Hellenic customs, heritage, history and way of life.

In July 2004, the Chicago Museum moved to a new location at 801 S. Adams Street in Chicago’s Greektown

In 2009 the museum re-branded itself the National Hellenic Museum, with a new logo incorporating the Greek key design, and created a new mission statement: "Connecting generations through Greek history, culture, and art."

In 2011 the museum moved to its current, purpose built facility at 333 South Halsted Street, in the heart of Chicago's Greektown.

New Facility[edit]

Construction of the new museum facility in January, 2011

In the fall of 2005, the Museum broke ground at the site of the new facility, billed as the cornerstone to Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley’s Greektown Redevelopment Plan. The new building is 40,000-square-foot (3,700 m2) contemporary facility, featuring permanent and rotating exhibition halls, a library and archival research center, classroom for children of all ages, and an oral history center featuring the National Hellenic Museum’s HOMER project. A rooftop terrace will feature three gardens and provide dramatic views of the Chicago skyline during the summer months.

The new National Hellenic Museum was designed by architect Demetrios Stavrianos, a Principal with RTKL Associates, Chicago.

The new facility was completed in 2011 with the grand opening taking place on December 10, 2011.[4]

The HOMER Oral History Project[edit]

The National Hellenic Museum’s HOMER Oral History Project is the largest national an effort to the Greek immigrant experience in America through the process of interviewing and recording the life stories of individuals of Greek descent. Approximately 450,000 Greeks came to America between 1890 and 1920 as part of the flood of Eastern Europe immigrants. Today, Greek Americans have a presence throughout the entire United States. The HOMER Project has more than 200 individual histories as of 2012, spanning hundreds of hours of film and audio tape, from Greeks and Greek-Americans from all over the United States.


Items from the NHM Collection

The National Hellenic Museum’s extensive collection spans the thousands of years of Greek history, with pieces from every periods of history from 1200 BCE through today. The collection prominently features artifacts of the Greek-American immigrant experience including, handmade textiles, traditional costumes, and musical instruments, as well as original photographs.

Library and Archives[edit]

The National Hellenic Museum’s Library and Archives includes well over 10,000 books, serial publications, and other documents. The library’s collection is composed of books on Greek history, culture, language, and religion, and includes such rare volumes as 17th and 18th century manuscripts. The archival collection includes years of Greek-American newspapers, magazines, and archival records, among other printed materials.

The National Hellenic Museum's archival collections include hand-written letter collections, early-modern manuscripts, and one of the largest archives of Greek-language newspapers in the United States.


The National Hellenic Museum hosts a variety of exhibitions each year, spanning the breadth of Greek history, culture, and art.

Current Exhibitions are:

  • American Moments: The Legacy of Greek Immigration
  • The Spirit of Marathon: From Pheidippides to Today
  • The Holocaust in Greece (with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum)
  • The Story of Greek Independence
  • The Greek Orthodox in America (Minor Display)
  • Kouzina (Minor Display)

Past exhibitions have included:

  • Macedonia: 4000 Years of Greek History and Culture
  • Vignettes of Greek Folk Art
  • Windows to Heaven: The Life and Works of Shirley Kontos
  • Marika’s Koukles: A Collection of Hand-Crafted Regional Greek Dolls
  • Nourishing Culture: Greek Immigrants and Food in Chicago, 1880–1920
  • Road to Rembetika : the roots and evolution of Rembetika music in Greece
  • Olympic Games: Then and Now
  • Inheritance: New Works by Thomas Xenakis
  • A Day in the Life of an Ancient Greek: A Hands-on Educational Experience
  • Crete: Portrait of a Changing Culture, Photography by Nancy Backas
  • Growing Up Greek: A Long Way from Athens
  • Dachau: April 29, 1945 An Orthodox Christian Memorial
  • Katoufs: From Royal Times to Nursery Rhymes
  • The Eruption of Thera: Opening the Door to Myth
  • Defenders of Democracy: The U.S. Response to Greece’s Role in WWII, A Modern Thermopylae
  • Greeks in the Diaspora: 15th-21st centuries
  • Cyprus Revealed: The Golden Green Leaf in the Wine Dark Sea
  • Sacred Art
  • Anamniseis: Highlights of the Permanent Collection
  • Zoe Thanatos: the Expressionist Art of Diane Thodos
  • The 1821 Greek War of Independence
  • Percy Jackson & the Olympians: A Look Inside the Lightning Thief


NHM 2010 Fall Gala Save the Date

Along with smaller events which take place on a weekly or monthly schedule, such as cocktail receptions, dinner receptions, brunches, meet-and-greet events, and holiday-themed events, the National Hellenic Museum has several marquee events which it hosts each year.

  • Ambrosia Ball - Previously known as the Annual Fall Gala, Ambrosia Ball is the National Hellenic Museum's signature yearly event, and is held at various locations. In 2010, the last year of the Fall Gala, it was held in the Chicago Hilton ballroom in downtown Chicago. Chicago's Union Station hosted the event in 2012 and in 2013 it was held in the Palmer House’s Grand Ballroom. These events include dinner, music, dancing, live and silent auctions, ethnic performances and entertainment, in addition speeches by the museum president and honored guest, and cocktails.
  • Passport to the World - Conducted in cooperation with the Chicago Children's Museum at Navy Pier, Chicago. The National Hellenic Museum uses this three-day annual event to showcase Greek culture with performances, traditional crafts and workshops.

External links[edit]