National Hellenic Museum
|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
|Public transit access||Chicago Blue Line
Halsted Street Station
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 Van Buren Streets. The National Hellenic Museum has recently undergone a modernization program that cumulated in the museum moving to its current building in December 2011. 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.
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.
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.
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.
The HOMER Oral History Project
The National Hellenic Museum’s HOMER Oral History Project is the an effort to document 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 300 individual histories as of 2015, spanning hundreds of hours of film and audio tape, from Greeks and Greek-Americans from all over the United States.
The National Hellenic Museum’s extensive collection spans the thousands of years of Greek history, with pieces from every period 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
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.
Current Exhibitions are:
- The Greek Monsters
- The Street is My Gallery, a visual display of street art in Athens
- Monumental, a hands-on exhibit about Greek architecture
- Reaching for the American Dream: The Legacy of Greek Immigration
- The Periklean Akropolis: From Antiquity to Modernity
- Civil Rights and Greek America
- The Story of Greek Independence
Upcoming Exhibitions are:
- The Greeks: Agamemnon to Alexander the Great
- Transcending Boundaries: The Artwork of Anthony Quinn
- Gods in Color
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.
- Annual Gala - The Gala is the National Hellenic Museum's signature yearly fundraising event, and is held at various locations. In 2015, it will be held at the Field Museum in downtown Chicago. The event includes dinner, music, dancing, live and silent auctions, ethnic performances and entertainment, in addition speeches by the museum director and honored guest, and cocktails.
- Kouzina – Chefs from the Chicago area gather at the National Hellenic Museum to put on a showcase of Mediterranean cuisine. Dishes include various appetizers, salads, entrées, desserts, and beverages. The event also includes music and cocktails at the museum.
- Alexa Ganakos, Greektown Chicago: Its History - Its Recipes, 2005, p. 197.
- Chicago Tribune, "New Hellenic museum to rise in Greektown," http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2010-03-17/news/ct-x-c-hellenic-museum-0317-20100317_1_new-museum-one-of-a-kind-museum-greektown-community